Nurse-midwife degree offered
University of Indianapolis will help run the program.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Starting this fall, the University of Indianapolis will offer a three-year, master's-level program for aspiring nurse-midwives.
The program is being run in conjunction with HealthNet Community Health Centers in Indianapolis, which is affiliated with Clarian Health and Methodist Hospital.
Indiana has only one certified nurse-midwife per 100,000 residents, ranking the state 43rd, program coordinator Barb Winningham said. The national average is 2.1 nurse-midwives per 100,000 people.
There are 71 nurse-midwives in Indiana - registered nurses with nurse-midwife degrees.
"When I heard that U of I was going to do this program, I was thrilled," said Janice Schoonzeld, 50, an Indianapolis nurse who has enrolled. "It will allow me to stay here and not have to leave family and friends."
More importantly, she and other supporters say, a degree program in Indiana will lead to better access to less-expensive health care and more choices for women who want different types of childbirth experiences.
Nurse-midwives provide prenatal and gynecological care, deliver babies, except for Caesarean and forceps-assisted births, and care for newborns.
When Winningham started as a nurse-midwife at HealthNet in 1991, it performed 300 to 400 births annually. Now, the number has grown to 2,200 births in the Indianapolis area.
Under the program, HealthNet nurse-midwives will teach the courses and supervise each student's clinical work with patients and hospital deliveries.
Graduates will take the American College of Nurse-Midwives exam to become state certified.
A few counties have no obstetricians-gynecologists or nurse practitioners, and other areas are underserved, said Anita Siccardi, U of I's director of graduate nursing programs.
Dr. Bernie Emkes, past president of the Indiana State Medical Association, said some doctors are concerned about midwives assisting in births that would require an emergency Caesarean birth.
"I think there is a place for midwives or nurse practitioners in the health centers and the rural areas of the state," he said. But, he added, they have to well-supervised and have the proper backup to handle emergencies.