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Name Change Implications Task Force


The issue of changing ACNM’s name was raised for consideration in early 2014 to present as a motion to the membership at the Annual Meeting in Denver. According to laws in New Mexico, where ACNM is incorporated, a proposal to change a corporate name must be forwarded by the Board of Directors (BOD) at least 60 days prior to the Membership Business Meeting in order to be considered by the membership. Accordingly, the BOD considered this possible upcoming motion at the March 2014 board meeting. After discussions with Connie Swentek, Chair of the Bylaws Committee, and Pat Burkhardt, maker of the motion, the BOD and the national office staff identified the following concerns:

  1. The timing of a name change at this time, particularly in light of the ongoing US MERA effort;
  2. The fact that of the 7 organizations in US MERA that represent essential elements of the midwifery profession, ACNM is the only organization that does not carry a midwifery name;
  3. The impact on the Our Moment of Truth branding project; 
  4. The need to clarify who and what ACNM represents and for whom it stands; and
  5. Questions about a more effective process for considering a name change rather than through a direct motion and voting process with no discussion and education of and by the members.

As a result, the BOD asked that, rather than a motion at the annual meeting, a task force be assembled to look at the implications to ACNM of changing or not changing the name.

The Name Change Implications Task Force was organized after a request went to ACNM members asking those interested in serving to send CVs and letters of interest. The President appointed Pat Burkhardt, CM (NY), and Katie Lavery, CNM (MI), as co-chairs to the task force.

The 8 other task force members are: Kathryn Osborne, CNM (WI); Anna Michelle Napier, SNM (PA); Julia Lange Kessler, CM (NY); Nancy Brannin, CNM (NM); Sharon Holley, CNM (TN); Michele Helgeson, CNM (MA); Lily Dalke, CM (NY); and Elaine Mielcarski, CNM (NY). BOD liaisons are Michael McCann, CNM (GA) and Katie Moriarty, CNM (MI), and the staff liaison is Clare Lynam, Director of Communications.


The scope of the task force’s work is as follows:

“The Name Change Implications Task Force (NCITF) will work over the next year to develop a report to the ACNM membership articulating the pros and cons associated with a change in the name of our organization from the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) to the American College of Midwifery (or similar name omitting the word ‘nurse’).”

To complete this work, the task force is engaged in a year-long process of data and information gathering from both internal sources (e.g., documents and web content, members and national office staff) and external organizations, as well as agencies to discern the implications of changing the name.

The task force will also work to decrease emotional response to this issue by increasing members’ knowledge and understanding of the implications as well as the pros and cons for changing the name.


The Task Force was appointed to evaluate the impact of an organizational name change, and share that information with the Board and the membership. This was an enormous task, covering potential impacts on ACNM finances, brand identification, education, credentialing, licensure, funding, politics, legislative action, APRN independence, and relationships with our various national and local partners, including US-MERA work. We collected information on these topics through internal and external surveys, staff input, evaluation of ACNM’s websites, and much discussion. We also held Open Forums at the 60th Annual Meeting, and had an information booth in the “ACNM Member Resources” section of the exhibit hall, to continue discussion and engage members.

With the information gathered, we created in depth reports for ACNM’s Board of Directors and our membership.

One of our most significant findings was that many members believed a name change would be a catalyst for other larger scale changes, which clarifies why this is such a loaded topic. Another important finding is confirming that there is no consensus among the membership regarding a name change or what that name could be. There is also confusion about the CM credential, role and function within our profession.

Regardless of our college’s name, our organization will remain the same internally: our membership, our beliefs, our credentials and educational requirements, our mission of caring for women, and our goals for the future will all still be the same, regardless of our name.

Summary of final recommendations:

  • Create a plan to educate the membership and general public about the CM credential.
  • Develop an educational campaign for members and associated organizations about what a name change does and doesn’t mean.
  • Conduct a survey to determine if there is a specific alternative name that has the support of a majority of members.
  • Create a plan to distinguish between CNMs/CMs and midwives who are not licensed or regulated.
  • Continue efforts to establish midwifery as an independent profession.
  • Budget for name-change related costs.
  • Accept that there is a potential for membership to shift.
  • Explore and create groundwork for a valid survey mechanism to determine the will of the membership.

Tremendous thanks to Co-Chairs Pat Burkhardt and Katie Lavery, and to all the Task Force members: Nancy Brannin Kathryn Osborne, Elaine Mielcarski, Michele Helgeson, Lily Dalke, Anna Michelle Napier, Julia Lange Kessler, Sharon Holley, ACNM Board members Michael McCann and Katie Moriarty, and Clare Lynam, ACNM staff liaison.

For more information, please review Quickening articles from Summer of 2014 through Winter of 2016, and our comprehensive document including research, Board reports, and the final report.


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