Investing in midwifery education could make New Jersey a safer place to have a baby | Opinion

By Julie Blumenfeld

Midwifery care can improve health outcomes and reduce costs. But this solution to the critical problems of our maternal health system is thwarted by the lack of educational opportunities for midwifery students in New Jersey.

The limiting factor in creating more midwives is the lack of training sites for students. Within the maternity care workforce, this is a challenge unique to midwifery practice. Unlike well-funded training for family medicine and midwifery residents, clinical placement for midwifery students nationally and in New Jersey relies on a patchwork of volunteer preceptors and clinical sites.

Governor Phil Murphy’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 allocates $1 million to expand midwifery education opportunities. With this innovative plan, hospital systems will create guaranteed clinical placement sites for nurse-midwifery students, establish side-by-side training for midwifery students and obstetrics residents, and offer cross-appointments of faculty for midwives to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of clinical training.

This support for midwives at the state level is unprecedented in the United States, but it’s no surprise given that First Lady Tammy Murphy is a champion of the midwifery model of care. In the Nurture New Jersey strategic plan she launched, expanding midwifery care is integral to improving our state’s ranking to 47th nationally for maternal deaths and eliminating racial disparities. in maternal and infant mortality.

Increasing public access to midwifery care by ensuring clinical training opportunities for midwifery students is the next big step towards improving and increasing access to equitable and affordable maternity care services. evidence-based for the people of New Jersey. There is plenty of evidence that midwives are part of the solution to New Jersey’s maternity care crisis. Increased educational opportunities will cultivate the workforce pipeline, expanding public access to midwifery care in New Jersey.

This level of state support for midwifery education has the potential to transform the lives of all New Jerseyans. Midwives provide care after birth. They are licensed and board certified health care providers graduates who provide primary care and lifelong sexual and reproductive health care. Data shows that midwifery care leads to greater patient satisfaction and fewer medical interventions such as episiotomies and caesarean sections; it also supports more breastfeeding. Midwives provide care proven to improve results for people facing poverty, depression and a myriad of life challenges.

While Governor Murphy’s proposed budget reflects unprecedented support for the growth and diversification of the midwifery workforce, it is only a proposal. For this innovative approach to be implemented, our legislators must also understand and support its potential impact.

Julie Blumenfeld is Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program and Clinical Assistant Professor of Women’s Health/Nurse-Midwifery, Division of Advanced Practice at Rutgers School of Nursing. She is also president of the New Jersey Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

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