The first annual meeting of the American College of Nurse-Midwifery was held November 12 and 13, 1955, in Kansas City, Missouri. Hattie Hemschemeyer, director of the Maternity Center Association School of Nurse-Midwifery, was elected the first president of the ACNM. In her first message to members in theBulletin of the American College of Nurse-Midwifery, she wrote about the driving force and movement of nurse-midwifery in terms equally true today:
The College must select carefully the work it undertakes and then do well the work it has undertaken. We need to work with dedication and conviction. We are beginning at a time when education has concentrated too heavily on techniques and too little on the human factors involved. It is essential that education relate in a responsible and practical way with the problems and moral issues of our times.
We nurse-midwives are a specialized group and our education, experience, and service have led us to the considered conclusion that in our present society it is neither desirable nor necessary to eliminate specialization. We believe that creative imagination, plus the ability to utilize ideas, is one of the most powerful influences in the world today. . . .
The nurse-midwives have not substituted rationalization nor routines for reason; they have not been helpless when it comes to effecting mass movements for the care of human beings where helplessness, faith in reason, responsibility, and the dignity of the individual were concerned. They know the difference between supplying verbal allegiance and action. . . .
We have a pioneer job to do, and if we work as well and as constructively in a group as we have in the past as individuals, we can help to improve professional competence, provide better service and educational programs, and make fuller use of resources. The future looks bright.
On the ACNM's tenth anniversary, Hemschemeyer stated, "Our identity as a College gives us fundamental rights and grave responsibilities".
In 1956 both the American College of Nurse-Midwifery and the American Association of Nurse-Midwives were accepted in the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) upon the recommendation of England and Scotland and the unanimous vote of the executive council of the ICM. In 1969 the American Association of Nurse-Midwives (AANM) merged with the American College of Nurse-Midwifery (ACNM) to form the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). In October 1972 the American College of Nurse-Midwives hosted the triennial congress of the ICM in Washington, D.C., when Lucille Woodville, then nursing consultant to the Bureau of Indian Health Affairs and past president of the ACNM (1969-1971), was president of the ICM (1969-1972).
The objectives of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, expressed in the Articles of Incorporation, as amended through May 1997, reflect both nurse-midwifery's concern for quality health care for women and infants and the assumption of the "grave responsibilities" alluded to by Hattie Hemschemeyer:
That the objectives of said corporation shall be:
To study, develop and evaluate standards for midwifery care of women and infants as provided by certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) and certified midwives (CMs);
- To study, develop and evaluate standards for nurse-midwifery and midwifery education;
- To support and assist in the development of nurse-midwifery and midwifery services/practices;
- To evaluate and accredit nurse-midwifery and midwifery education programs;
- To determine the eligibility of individuals to practice as certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives;
- To facilitate and coordinate the efforts of certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives who in the public interest provide quality services to individuals and childbearing families;
- To establish channels for communication and cooperation with other professional and nonprofessional groups who in the public interest share the objectives of ensuring sufficient quality services to individuals and childbearing families;
- To establish channels for interpretation of midwifery as practiced by CNMs and CMs to allied professional and non-professional groups on a regional, national and international basis;
- To promote research and the development of literature in the field of midwifery as practiced by CNMs and CMs;
- To speak for all members of the College in relation to issues affecting the professional affairs of certified nurse-midwives and certified midwives;
- To provide professional services to members of the College.
- To promote the College as a leader and major resource in the development and promotion of high quality health care for women and infants, nationally and internationally.