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The Latent Phase: Making the Most of the Annual Meeting

By Stephanie Tillman, CNM, MSN

This year marks my third in a row attending the ACNM Annual Meeting & Exhibition, and I could not be more thrilled! It is a powerful gathering of reproductive health care providers, with time dedicated to celebrating our profession and ourselves. I am excited to see the many midwives I’ve met in the past year, I look forward to the smiling faces of my former classmates, and am thankful for the dedicated time to sit down and reconfirm my intentions within midwifery.

I admit I felt disconnected from the more prominent midwife group and mission the first 2 times I attended. I knew a few people personally, could identify the more “famous” midwives by face or name, and with my blogging work felt I could participate in my particular niche. Still, my greenness emanated like an aura, and restricted my attendance: I sat in the back of the room, felt uncertain about speaking up when I disagreed with ideas, and felt that as a new midwife I should observe and continue to learn before creating a firm presence in the College.

I challenge myself and others to do otherwise this time around, regardless of whether you are a student or new graduate. The annual meeting is a time for all midwives to feel present, represented, and heard! If not now, when? Know that this meeting is a time to be welcomed into our work, take a break from daily stressors, and absorb our collective spirit. It is also a time to make change in the presence of the changemakers. You are each a part of this work, and contribute energy and innovative ideas and holistic backgrounds to the strength of midwifery. Bring it on!

Take some time before the meeting to strategize your attendance. Last year I recommended a few ways to do so: attend the meeting of the region where you plan to practice, say hello to the celebrity midwives, and speak up at sessions. These all still ring true! Check out information specific to students this year thanks to this great page compiled by ACNM. Here are a few more ideas:

Go to at least one special event: Midwives of Color Reception! Midwives-Political Action Committee (PAC)! Division of Global Health (DGH)! A.C.N.M. Foundation Fundraiser! Bring a friend or 2, and enjoy the parties! Obviously I plan to meet you out on the dance floor at the Midwifery Celebration Party: I’ll be in a gold and black dress shaking a serious leg, and would love to say hello!

Bring your resume: Many practices will interview or network with possible candidates at the meeting. Bring a few copies of your CV or a handful of business cards. Need a quick way to get it done? Here's an outline of my own resume in case you’re looking for a place to start.

Network: Sit next to someone new at each session, and introduce yourself. Bump elbows with others vying for the coolest swag at the Exhibit Hall. Introduce yourself to the speaker at the session that most moves your midwife spirit. Approach former faculty and old friends and let them know your specific interests now that you’re out of school and in the midwife working world. And listen with full attention when others come to you and discuss these same items: learn about each other and yourself!

Technologize midwifery: Midwives active on social media will be living it up this year! The national office is organizing some great opportunities, including a scavenger hunt and a caffeine get-together. Interested in following? The official hashtag for the meeting is #ACNMDenver - participate along with me and many others! Follow me on Facebook or @FeministMidwife for some live tweeting and some serious picture tagging!

Find your niche: Actively engaging with the College and the community is about more than becoming a midwife. Consider ways you might want to be involved, whether through subcommittees, or the alumni group, or with the local affiliate. The College needs our participation to keep up the great work we do as a community! Over 60 special interest groups will hold meetings onsite. Check out your options on pages 34-35 of the Final Program. If you do not find an activity while at the meeting, check out this section of the ACNM website for more opportunities.

Track your attendance - In most states, you need continuing education not only for your midwife license, but also your nursing license. Complete the online surveys after sessions, or complete them at home with access available after the meeting, and then start tracking this part of your work!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Share your favorite ways to be involved at the Annual Meeting! What special events do you never miss? Do you have favorite memories from your first few meetings that would help other students and new graduates optimize meeting involvement?

Stephanie Tillman is a recently-graduated nurse-midwife now practicing full-scope midwifery in the urban United States, at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and as a member of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). With a background in global health and experience in international clinical care, the impact of public health and the broader profession of midwifery are present in all her thoughts and works. Stephanie's blog, Feminist Midwife, discusses issues related to women, health, and care. Find out more at and follow her on Twitter at @feministmidwife.

Posted By Barbra Elenbaas | 5/8/2014 2:02:36 PM



Any opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual participant(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. ACNM is not responsible for accuracy of any of the information provided by guest bloggers and/or members via the Comments section. We welcome all feedback – including comments, ideas and suggestions. We also welcome civil, friendly debates. However, any and all content that is deemed inflammatory or rude will not be posted.


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