NIFA Surgical e-News, June 26, 2014

At the Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), held in Denver in May, NIFA presented a suture workshop for more than 40 new graduates and midwives returning to active practice. The show was a huge success and verified that CNMs are a rapidly growing segment of women’s health and ones we’ll be seeing more of in our operating room suites.

This week I had an informative telephone interview with Jessica Anderson, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC, Associate Service Director and Senior Instructor for the Center for Midwifery at the University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing and part of the ACNM Board to ask her a few follow up questions:

NIFA: We have noticed at this meeting that there are CMs (Certified Midwives) as well as CNMs (Certified Nurse Midwives). What is the difference?

JA: The difference is educational background. [Read more about educational requirements at the site.] CMs are licensed or authorized to practice in NY, NJ, DE, MO and RI; CNMs are licensed in all 50 states. [Ed. note: there is a third category: CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) with still different educational requirements; CPMs are regulated in a number of states, either by licensure, certification, registration, voluntary licensure or permit.] ACNM is the organization that represents CNMs and CMs.

NIFA: Is there a difference in philosophy between CMs and CNMs?

JA: No, the standards for certification and education are identical; they just enter midwifery with different backgrounds.

NIFA: Some attendees at the meeting vehemently said they “do not go into surgery” while others said they wanted to get into surgery (especially the upcoming graduates) to work mostly with C-sections and tubals or an occasional Total Abdominal Hysterectomy with OB/GYN groups. Can you comment on that?

JA: CNMs/ CMs are taught how to suture perineums as part of our core competencies educational programs, but not how to assist at surgery. Some CNMs/CMs may have a desire to participate in surgeries, but for most of us it depends on the setting. For example, I’m in an academic setting with a large resident presence; I would not be needed to first assist. A midwife in a private setting might have a need to assist with cesareans and gynecological surgery. We didn’t become midwives to do surgery; we became nurse midwives to care for women and families. But just because we don’t assist, it doesn’t mean we’re not present with our patient when she has a C-section. I’m there to assist her as a support person, though not necessarily assisting with the procedure.

Editor’s note: In the last 12 months NIFA has enrolled six CNMs into its formal RNFA Program and looks forward to presenting its wound closure workshop again at the 2015 Conference in Washington D.C!