By Stephanie Tillman, CNM, MS
After the last entry’s list of job
, are you
ready with a list of postings? Does performance anxiety have you stuck at an
open draft email screen with a blinking cursor? Here are the next steps to
getting your first (or next) midwifery job.
When it comes to applying
for midwifery jobs, competition is fierce. Your cover letter and resume market
and advertise the things that set you apart from the rest of the pool, so spend
lots of time making these fantastic!
Your resume should look
clean and be easy to scan for the vital points. Write down a list of
everything you think is important and unique about yourself – and I assure you,
there are many things. Include anything and everything
midwifery-related: extra trainings, doula work, workshops, Centering
experience, clinical specializations you earned while in school that are
outside the typical scope of practice (EMBs, colposcopies, ultrasound). For
those who utilize a statement at the top of the resume, this is an opportunity
to create a brief description about your personal approach in midwifery care.
Almost all of the job postings
I see lately encourage inquiry over email. I found it most useful to use the
email itself as a cover letter containing a reference to an attached resume. A
cover letter should expand upon your resume in a narrative way, since resumes are
limited to brief bullet points; this is your chance to elaborate and make your
strengths shine. Make sure to detail why you're interested in the particular
job posting or practice, and what drew you to apply.
Approach an interview as you
might a birth: with deep breathing, a state of calm, and flexibility!
The list you created to
screen job postings should also be on your mind, and can be used when you ask your
own questions during an interview. Remember that every interview goes both ways!
Specific topics to hit during interviews (first, second, or third round,
depending on their importance to you) might include: orientation (especially
for new grads), hours of call, hours of clinic, back-up, midwifery support by
collaborators, length of clinic visit time, adherence to labor curves, TOLACs,
inductions, post-dates, etc.
Perhaps this is my Type-A
personality, but for every interview I also made a list of details about myself
that I wanted to get across. Whether a place was or wasn’t open to new
graduates, I was going to tout my skills and show what I had to offer. This included
my personal midwife approach and whether it would be acceptable within the
group, why I was a unique candidate, and why I was interested in their specific
practice and patient population. Create your own list to check off throughout
the interview, and make sure you say it all!
If you don’t get a
position, seeking feedback regarding the interview can be incredibly helpful in
preparing for other interviews. Always consider contacting your interviewer and
asking for feedback!
Words to the wise
Midwives are a busy bunch,
and interviews can happen on the fly. Sometimes I had a number of email-interview-tangoes
before I was screened enough to be called for an official interview. Others
called right away, sometimes in the middle of the night. Whatever the scenario,
make sure you are comfortable with the interview approach - you always have the
option of scheduling a phone call. Taking a new job (and, conversely, accepting
a new midwife) is important, and should be done correctly.
I also learned that some
midwives who own their practices and conduct their own interviews may not know
the boundaries of legally appropriate interview questions. Questions about
marital status, children or plans for children, or religious beliefs are all illegal
to ask. Make sure that you stay within your own boundaries of comfort when
answering any question, and do not feel pressured into answering illegal ones.
Finally, I encountered
several “alternative” hiring options for new grads: shadowing midwives for
three months and then reapplying for the job, "interning" for six
months without pay for a chance at being offered a position, or working
part-time for six months or a year before determining if I was a good fit for
the practice. At first I thought these were great opportunities to be
integrated into a practice, but I quickly realized they wouldn’t work for me.
After so many years of education and preparation, I felt that I deserved to be
paid for my work, that if I was a good fit and would care for a practice’s patients,
then I should be hired and paid as a midwife. Midwifery school is expensive,
and my student loans are only one of the bills I need to pay. I was only
willing relocate my entire life (and my family) for a full job. I encourage you
to consider your bottom line as well, because these offers can be hard to
Many schools have career
support systems in place. Check with your school, program, or professional
institution to find out if they offer resume review, practice interviews, or
For those interviewing or
conducting interviews, do you have application and interview advice? Any pearls
for those ramping up to do this for the first time?
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.