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
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
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 www.feministmidwife.com and follow her on Twitter at @feministmidwife.