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Georgetown program allows nurses to pursue dreams of becoming midwives

The pursuit of the ultimate job led a time-crunched Kathy Peacock to enroll in the Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

“My dream job is to do home births because that was where both my boys were born,” said Peacock, RN, a certified doula and student in her last year of the 27-month program.

The flexibility of an online program at such a reputable school was a major attraction for Peacock, who is one of 133 students in the only nurse-midwife program based in the Washington, D.C. area. “Georgetown is just a well-known institution for a high-quality education, and the online part was really appealing to me,” said Peacock of Takoma Park, Md. “I have two little boys at home and getting into a physical classroom was just not all that feasible.”

Online program

Kathy Peacock, RN

Enabling nurses to study wherever they live was one reason the program, which began in 1972, transitioned to online classes in 2011, said Julia Lange Kessler, DNP, CM, FACNM, program director of the Nurse Midwifery/WHNP Program.

“If you are going to a brick-and-mortar school you have to show up at a specific time,” but with the online component “you go on your computer and we open up the classroom. You can see everyone, you can talk to everyone, you can see your instructor and her video or PowerPoint slide, or whatever she wants to share with you,” Kessler said.

“You have your clinicals in your community, which is fabulous because it puts midwives in places where they usually aren’t. There are many, many communities in the U.S. that don’t have a midwife or a care provider.”

Almost half of the counties in the nation lack a maternity care professional, either midwife or obstetrician, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Only about 500 graduates from every midwifery program in the nation are eligible to sit for the midwifery boards each year.

Dual certification

Elizabeth Johnston, RN

Graduates of the Georgetown program are eligible to become dually certified as women’s health nurse practitioners without any extra coursework and are eligible to take certification exams offered by the American Midwifery Certification Board and the National Certification for the Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing Specializations. The program produces about 50 graduates a year, Kessler said.
Students attend three on-campus intensive sessions during the clinical portion of the program. Each session lasts for two to three days, and the clinical learning occurs in the simulation center.

Nurse-midwives care for the health and well-being of childbearing women and healthy newborns in a variety of settings including hospitals, homes and birth centers. They also provide some primary care services.

“Anybody can learn midwifery,” Kessler said. “You don’t have to be a labor and delivery nurse. We have had great students who worked as emergency room nurses, pediatric nurses or NICU nurses. We’ve had all kind of nurses and they all fit beautifully.”

About one out of every four students who apply is accepted, Kessler said. “We don’t have a wait list because the only thing that would limit us is finding enough instructors, which we have plenty of,” she said.

Elizabeth Johnston, MSN, RN, who is on track to graduate in 2016, said the program will enable her to achieve her goal to work in a private practice with other midwives and OB/GYNs. Not only will she provide care to women throughout their lifespan as a midwife, but she also “will be able to function more autonomously. I don’t always want to be the low man on the totem pole,” said Johnston, a Baltimore resident.

Nurses considering the program must be prepared to work hard, Johnston said.

“This program is very difficult and should not be entered casually,” Johnston said. “If you have the ability to not work outside of school while in the program, I highly recommend not working. Juggling work and school is very difficult for me.”

Interested students should know that the program offers “a great platform with amazing instructors who have a ton of clinical experience and excellent educational and teaching backgrounds,” Peacock said. “The faculty really are the best of the best from around the country.” •

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer.

By | 2020-04-15T09:28:19-04:00 February 11th, 2015|Categories: DC/MD/VA, Regional|0 Comments

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