Friday, February 22, 2013

Update to Midwifery in Alberta-Need Your Help!

I must apologize for not having posted in a year and a half. After running over Jewel, I couldn't bring myself back to visit my blog. There are so many things I have thought over this time that I would like to post, but,-and I know it sounds dumb-while I don't want to delete the post I wrote in tribute to her, seeing her picture there would paralyze me each time. I'm finally at a point where I can see her picture without crying-but just barely.  God has blessed us-just as Job was given so much more after his trials, so we have been blessed with a beautiful pack of beagles, starting with a precious girl named Ruby, sent to us by a wonderful family in Saskatchewan, and then we adopted a few more, each one special in our hearts. Still, I will never forget our Jewel.

Anyways, several people have written, asking for updates on this post I had written, the day before we lost Jewel, and I do feel so bad for leaving you hanging.  I have written to Claire MacDonald for an update, and she has sent me some very good news on it!  
I am going to post her account of it, and I would like to thank everyone who made an effort to help.  I would also like to recommend, if you don't already, that you consider a membership to the Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (Please click on purple words for the link).  Claire is editor of their publication "Birth Issues" (check out their new blog!: is one of the wonderful people who make up this helpful and informative group.  They feature many birth stories in their publication, and I know there are more than just me out there who are "birth story junkies!"  They also help to promote and support women who want to birth their own way, whichever way that may be.  A very worthwhile organization!
Without further ado, here is what Claire shared:

I have wonderful news to share with you and your readers. Of the 5 students, 4 won their appeal during the Summer 2012. Of the 4 who won their appeal, 3 just started practicing as midwives in Edmonton. Tara Tilroe is working with Hope Midwives. Teilya Kiely with Midwifery Care Partners. And Carly Beaulieu is working with Lucina Midwives. (Note from Vanessa-Carly attended my 5th child, Luke's birth, along with Maureen and Kerstin. She was amazing!). Megan Lalonde will be joining the Lucina Midwives sometime in the Spring or Summer after completing some midwifery courses in Ontario. 

The experience was grueling for all parties. The midwifery graduates were individually assessed three times, had to hire a lawyer, and appealed twice. In the end the Alberta Health Disciplines Board asked the Alberta Midwifery Health Disciplines Committee to assess each applicant for registration on an individual basis. The graduates were granted registration with a number of caveats. Some had to take more courses, others needed to be the primary caregiver at more births, and most will need to practice for a number of years under the supervision of a senior midwife. Although they did not receive full registration, they are all very happy to be working as midwives. They just want to put the experience behind them and finally attend to birthing families. It was also a gruesome experience for the members of the board, the majority of whom are not midwives, as they had little formal guidance or framework to assess foreign-trained midwives. It created soem divisions amongst professionals and among midwives themselves. There was a lot of fear mainly, which is the center of childbirth for so many unfortunately.

This struggle highlighted the need for a College of Midwives, which was created in January this year. From now on the College will be the arm responsible for all of these midiwfery related inquiries, complaints, policies, etc. Now that we have a Midwifery program in Alberta, most foreign programs and schools are identified...which ones are accepted as legitimate programs and which are not. There is also a path to "upgrade" your skills to work within Canada.

Although all this appears pretty clear the reality is that it is still a work in progress. The College has a lot of work to do this year to create much needed guidelines, frameworks, and hire staff. The hope is that gentleness and transparency can always prevail. I really don't want to see our emerging midwifery culture to become like that of the medical schools, where it is so competive that everyone eats each other up. When students graduate they are often exhasuted and disillusioned. The midwifery profession is so taxing, that gentleness and patience are skills that need to be nurtured within the midwifery culture.

Sidenote: At this point in time, the degree from the Midwives College of Utah is not one of the programs that are accepted, and it is not recommended for midwives hoping to practice in Alberta to take this program, at least at this time. There is a possibility that a master's degree from this college may be considered more acceptable (the applicants that I mentioned before did not have that, and assumptions were (wrongly) made about their education being "fast tracked"), but it is still not a sure thing, and not recommended.  The list of approved programs is available on the Alberta Association of Midwives' website, here:

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