By Stephanie Tillman, CNM, MSN
you are a current midwifery student or recent graduate attending the ACNM
Annual Meeting in Nashville, you are about to have an incredible time. From the
celebrity midwife sightings, to the feeling of the global reach of midwifery
work, to the latest research, to talking with abandon about vaginas and
meconium and nipples: there is magic that happens at ACNM that rejuvenates a
the research and the experience. I attended my first Annual Meeting last year
as a recent graduate. While many sessions covered recent evidence that I had
just learned in school, I found that my knowledge expansion came from
collective learning. The energy of the questions posed by seasoned midwives,
the unified critique of approaches, and the sharing of direct patient
experiences changed my interaction with the education sessions. The midwives
who spoke up succeeded in creating a well-rounded understanding of the clinical
information that I'd studied, rapid-fire, during school. The support or
protestations of certain practices I had only heard about from a few preceptors
through my rotations were exclaimed in public forums, seconded, and clapped
for. I learned a broader sense of how one learns to practice, and the balance
of evidence, experience, and updates from the most knowledgeable midwives in
there is the sense of community. Mine grew ten-fold at last year's meeting in
Long Beach. I have a serious love for the midwifery community: as a student I
felt incredibly attached to my class, and still do despite our scattered
locations. After my first Annual Meeting, I realized that my love extends to
all midwives. We are all out there doing our own thing in our own small worlds,
with singular but unified struggles and successes and beauty and love. Then we
get together and create a veritable midwife mecca, dominating a different city
each year and showing off the diversity of midwives walking and talking the
profession. Once a year, the power of midwifery in physical unification
reverberates on a national scale.
there is the conversation. I often felt dizzy at walking around and absorbing
it all, trying to remember a rebozo from the Rubin maneuver, updates to GBS and
gonorrhea guidelines, and debates over the UK versus the US maternity system.
Our field is replete with experts, respected across fields of medicine,
anthropology, herbology, academia, business, public health, and global health.
I am so excited to hear what these midwives have been up to, engage with them,
encourage them to keep up their work and continue to expand our profession.
students and new grads, there is an entire web page (http://www.midwife.org/students) through ACNM dedicated to activities that
might have special interest for those attending the meeting for the first time
or who are newly entering into the profession. The first timers orientation,
study sessions for Boards, and Student track are all important to keep in mind.
Additionally, it will be important to be in the conversations around the 2012 Student Report and ACNM’s response: midwifery educational experiences
are most present in your mind as students and recent grads, and your continued
input is incredibly important to improve midwifery academics and clinical
words of advice:
- Speak up! Ask questions, go up to the microphone, contest common
practice with evidence-based knowledge. You are a midwife in training, and
your voice should be heard among the rest! I heard few students speak last
year, and wish more had. I hope to see you up at the microphone and
applaud your work in midwifery along with the rest!
- Try something completely different! If you already know you are going into
homebirth, attend a session or two about hospital birth management or
engaging with nursing staff. If you are working in a highly medicalized
environment, check out a session about herbs and acupressure. Keep your
midwifery mind growing!
- Attend your regional meeting! I am only recently getting to know
the midwives in my state of practice, and am learning it can be a tricky
process when one is no longer a student. Allow others to start recognizing
your name and face, and join the community in your own state of practice!
- Recognize the celebrities, and introduce yourself! Soon you will be among the ranks, and
wouldn’t you want to talk to the newest kids on the block?! Tell your
midwifery heroes what their work and their path has meant to you - it will
mean a lot to them to hear it, I assure you!
- Be kind to each other. Last year, I remember feeling surprised at the actions
of a few in a space that otherwise felt so safe and supportive. I wrote a
blog post, “Believe in your fellow
midwives,” describing the importance of knowing that we each practice from a
place of respect for women, love for the body, and knowledge of the
natural process. Remember that as we work with each other to learn and
grow and improve in Nashville.
look forward to seeing you around at the meeting! Don’t be afraid to introduce
yourself, or leave a comment if you’d like to meet and greet. And to all of the
recent midwife graduates - congratulations!
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.