by Jenifer Poell, CNM, WHNP-BC
Remember walking into your first job as a new midwife? If you’re anything like me, you felt very excited but intimidated. And then, day by day, you gained confidence and started to enjoy yourself and settle into your role. This parallels my experience at my first ACNM Lobby Day in Washington, DC, last year. I was a little uneasy and didn’t know what to expect. But it was so empowering to walk the halls of Congress with hundreds of other midwives to promote our important role in health care.
A few weeks before Lobby Day, I had scheduled an appointment with Nicole Dinis, then the health legislative assistant in the office of Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL). Shortly before our appointment, the office staff notified me that Dinis was suddenly unavailable to meet with us; we would instead meet with a general staffer, Evelyn Rodriguez. I was a bit disappointed because we wanted to ask Dinis to encourage Rep. Gutierrez to cosponsor the "Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services for the 21st Century Act (MOMS 21)" (HR 5807) legislation and we feared the general staffer might not be as familiar with our perspective. I was new to Rep. Gutierrez’s district and didn’t know what to expect. From my research, he appeared to be midwife-friendly, but I had yet to find out just how midwife-friendly.
During our brief stand-up meeting in the hallway, Rodriguez asked me where I worked. When I told her about my clinic, she immediately said she knew of it. In fact, she had been there! It turned out that Rep. Gutierrez had also visited the clinic for tours and events because of his support for my organization’s mission. Rodriguez and I quickly formed a connection and had a great conversation. So despite my unease and last-minute scheduling difficulties, I was able to build a relationship with my representative’s office. Plus, we had spread the word about midwives to a less-experienced staffer who may continue on to have a long career on the Hill.
I don’t need to list all of the reasons why lobbying is important for midwives—you’ve heard them all before. If I can do it, you can, too. Let’s all have our voices be heard on April 6! Whether in your scrubs, pajamas, jeans, home, office, or hospital, take 15 minutes to participate in ACNM’s first ever Virtual Lobby Day.
To learn more about the strategies of the Midwives-PAC to impact women's health legislation on Capitol Hill, visit the Political Action Committee (PAC) Web site. You can also learn more about the advocacy work of the ACNM and Government Affairs Committee.