Of course, the correct term is Midwife*. Nurse Midwife. And apparently I need to set the record straight. I was talking about grad school to one of my peers at work (a very intelligent fellow nurse, mind you) and she said, "but you won't be a Nurse Practitioner, will you?" Ummm. Yes, I will.**
Nurse Midwives are the Advanced Practice Nurse version of an OB-GYN but obviously, given the long and rich history of midwifery, they tend to practice with a more holistic (but no less scientific) view. I am not training to be a lay Midwife or a Doula. Those are respectable jobs in their own right, but I will be practicing under an Advanced Practice nursing license and will not be doing home births or anything like that. (Nothing against home births, but under the scope of nursing practice, I'm not sure you can practice under your license at a home birth in most states.)
So what will I be doing? Hopefully, wherever I end up getting a job, I will be able to follow my patients from the start of pregnancy, through the labor and delivery, and even follow-up with the baby up to 60 days post-birth. My fellow nurses may not know what I'm getting into, but one of our physicians came from a hospital on the east coast that used Midwives and when he heard I was starting grad school, he told me that Nurse Midwives were the second-highest paid Advanced Practitioners, right behind Nurse Anesthetists. (I'm sure it's because the malpractice insurance is through the roof, for good reason.) But it's nice to know that our doctors know what I'm talking about.
Midwifery is, in a sense, the oldest occupation. Women have always been helping other women through childbirth. In modern-day society, midwives attend 70% of all births in the six countries with the lowest infant mortality rates (including Denmark, Holland, and Sweden).*** As of 2004 in the US, midwives only attend 5% of births and we rank 26th worldwide in infant mortality. (There are approximately 1 million factors going into America's shockingly low rank, but I like to think that expanding and encouraging the practice of midwifery could help a little).
SO. This fall, I'm starting what could be 3 years of difficult schooling. I say "could" because I'm still oh-so-in-love with the babies I work with and I'm not entirely sure I can leave them. Only time will tell!
*Ross likes to say 'midwiffer' since I say 'Nurse Midwifery school' all the time.
**Technically, there are 4 categories of Advanced Practice Nursing: Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner (NP), and Nurse Anesthetist. So technically, I will not be an NP but an equally advanced practitioner with autonomy and prescriptive abilities, thankyouverymuch.