Think together, no.
Pull together, yes.
TO: Open Letter to the ACNM Board of Directors and Executive Director
FROM: Geradine Simkins, CNM, MSN, MANA Board President
RE: ACNM Opposition to Federal Recognition for the CPM
DATE: July 16, 2009
I am a CNM and a member of the ACNM and I say very emphatically—not in my name! I do not support your recent decision to publicly and aggressively oppose the efforts of a broad-based coalition of six national midwifery and consumer organizations to seek federal recognition of the Certified Professional midwife. Your position, to me, is indefensible.
Lack of Evidence
For an organization of professionals that values evidence, we find it inexcusable that you have chosen an action that the evidence does not support.
- There is not evidence to support your claim that the majority of CPMs are not properly qualified to practice.
- There is no evidence to support the position that CPMs in general have poorer outcomes than CNMs or CMs.
- There is no evidence to support the position that CPMs trained though apprenticeship and evaluated for certification through he Portfolio Evaluation Process (PEP) of NARM have different outcomes than CPMs trained in MEAC-accredited schools.
- And there is no evidence to support the notion that a midwife with a Master’s Degree has better outcomes than one without that level of higher education.
The evidence we do have on the CPM credential indicates that the midwives holding this credential are performing well, have good outcomes, and are saving money in maternity care costs. The growing number of women choosing CPMs suggests that women value the care provided by CPMs. If research in the future demonstrates that the PEP process is not safe or is not cost-effective, then that is the time to reassess and restructure the process.
We, as midwives, have values that underpin our professional practice. We cherish and honor those values. You have stated that your board made its decision because ACNM strongly values formal standardized education, and opposes federal recognition of CPMs who have not gone through an accredited program. We can accept that you strongly value standardized education. However, we strongly value multiple routes of midwifery education for a variety of reasons.
There is something important, powerful and valuable in a training process in which the student midwife or apprentice is educated in a one-on-one relationship with a preceptor and her clients in the community, as opposed to the tertiary setting where student midwives don’t follow women throughout the childbearing year, and may never experience continuity of care or individualized care. In addition, by preserving multiple routes we are able to educate more midwives, not fewer. We need more midwives! If health care reform were to turn around and adopt the midwifery model of care as the gold standard this year, we could not possible supply “a midwife for every mother”.
Impact of Taking a Stand
By publicly and actively opposing federal recognition of CPMs as Medicaid providers, in addition to taking a stand about formal education, you are also taking a stand (willingly or inadvertently) for decreased access to midwifery care, diminished choice for women to chose maternity care providers and place of birth, and restricted access to the profession by potential candidates. Is it worth it to sacrifice several things that you value, just so that you can take a stand for one thing that you value? Is it possible for you as an organization to value something, but also realize that it is not the only valid way? Is it possible for you to respect the diversity of pathways to midwifery that the CPM represents? It does not require the ACNM to sacrifice its own standards. It simply requires the ACNM to respect the standards of another part of the profession of midwifery.
It is disingenuous of ACNM to state in its Special Alert to ACNM Members on July 15, 2009, “ACNM’s decision to oppose this initiative followed unsuccessful attempts by ACNM and MAMA Campaign leaders to reach a compromise that both organizations could support…” There was no formal process or interaction, no back and forth negotiations, no attempt at collaboration that occurred between ACNM leaders and MAMA Campaign leaders. There was one phone conversation in which the ACNM representative stated that there was only one compromise that they would accept: federal recognition only for gradates of MEAC-accredited programs. While there are multiple educational paths to achieve it, the CPM credential embodies a single standard body of knowledge and experience. It cannot be split into parts. Therefore, the MAMA Campaignis promoting all CPMs to receive federal recognition as Medicaid providers, not some CPMs. There is no room for compromise when one side gets everything they want and the other side does not get what they want at all.
It is also disingenuous to suggest the World Health Organization (WHO) document sets a standard that has been embraced around the world. In fact, the WHO developed global standards for midwifery education without the input of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), an international partner of the WHO. The majority of members of the task force that developed the standards were not midwives. There was not widespread input regarding the document. In response to this oversight, the ICM passed a resolution at the June 2008 Council meeting in
Lack of Vision
What offends me as a CNM, an ACNM member, a member of the MANA/ACNM Liaison Committee, and the President of the Midwives Alliance is the lack of vision that your decision represents.
Why not embraces diversity and support innovation? Why not bring the turf wars to an end? Why not unite under the banner of midwifery and the values that we share in common? Why not set aside our differences and recognize that we are all midwives? Why not recognize that the work we do is more important than the credentials we hold? Why not support one another within the profession, because diversity is our strength not our weakness?
What We Do Matters
The healthcare debate has been in progress in
Expanding the pool of qualified Medicaid providers to include CPMs will help address the plight of so many women around the county who receive poor quality maternity care or do not have access to care at all. We need to lower the C-section rate and increase VBACs. We need to lower infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates in the
I repeat to you—not in my name. As an ACNM member, your actions this week do not represent what I value, what I hope for, and what I work untold hours to achieve, nor do your actions represent what my Board of Directors values. I have written this letter at the urging of my Board of Directors. There are 14 members of the MANA Board —seven CPMs, four CNMs, one CPM/CNM, one CM and one DEM; truly a cross-section of the midwives that practice in this nation. What we stand for is diversity, tolerance and unity among midwives and within the profession of midwifery. What we advocate and work for is a midwife for every mother, in every village, city, tribe and community in the country and across the globe.
Geradine Simkins CNM, MSN, President
MANA Board of Directors
Maria Iorillo CPM, 1st Vice President
Christy Tashjian CPM, 2nd Vice President
Angy Nixon CNM, Secretary
Audra Phillips CPM, Treasurer
Tamara Taitt DEM, Region 3
Sherry DeVries CPM, CNM Region 4
Elizabeth Moore, CPM, Region 5
Colleen Donavan-Bateson CNM, Region 6
Dinah Waranch CNM, Region 9
Cristina Alonso Midwife, Region 10
Michelle Peixnho CPM, Midwives of Color Section