Monday, February 9, 2009

The Value of an AAMI Education

A lot of the talk amongst the staff and students at AAMI centers around the idea of knowing what you need to know so you can stay hands off and have the ability to recognize and act upon abnormal events in labor should you need to.
As a doula I have attended hundreds of births.  As a student midwife, I am in the first year of my clinical work.  I recently attended a birth as a doula that illustrated over a dozen points for me about listening to mothers a their own best experts, taking care that technology does not exacerbate or even create problems, and responding to the person in front of me as a unique individual.  
The birth was devastating for mother and baby because although we transferred into the hospital for higher level care, they largely ignored everything she said and did not connect the dots between the clinical symptoms she presented with and developed over the many hours she was under their care.  She is living proof that  the hospital mantra "healthy mother, healthy baby" undermines everything that is necessary and true in birth—there is so much more than just the final outcome to consider.  I came to see that the comfort level of the staff and OBs was couched in the many print-outs, read-outs, and electronic alarms they surround themselves with.  They believe they can save anyone and have no concern for keeping mothers and babies out of the situation where they need to be saved in the first place.
This birth, although wretched in nearly every way, was a pivotal point event for me as a midwife.  I learned a lot about myself.  Although the birth is a how-to manual of avoiding over-use of technology and under-use of human creativity and mindfulness, the main message for me did not come until I was talking about the birth 24 hours later with dad.  He said to me that towards the end I was freaking him out because I was "psychic" about everything.
Here is my AAMI message.  I was not psychic.  I am knowledgeable.  I have learned.  I can incorporate.  I am not afraid to take the time to observe and listen to mother.  I have skills that have been developed  which have instructed me to track symptoms and connect them to create a picture.  I am trained in normal by being drilled in abnormal.  the hospital staff are trained to treat abnormal symptoms with medicines which make the symptom—mother or baby's strongest communication to the provider about their state of being disappear.  I am trained to listen to and honor mom's voice about her own health and the health of her baby.  The hospital staff is trained to manage labor, delivery, mother and baby in a way which overrides mother's voice and discourages professional creative thought process in favor of what they "do" in a given circumstance.  I was not psychic.  I was smart, aware, thoughtful and present.  This is AAMI training.  The births where everything goes as expected: I always think—my AAMI training—look how we do nothing to interfere!  But this birth gave me more awareness and insight into the value of the bone grinding quality and volume of academic work at AAMI that dozens of other births could ever have done for me.  My intuition and experience have a great partner in the breadth and depth of knowledge AAMI has given me.  And I am not even done with the course work yet.
Jodilyn Owen

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Distinction You and I Can Always Be Sure Of

Advanced Midwifery Studies was just titled The Midwifery Home Study Course when we started as Apprentice Academics in 1981.  We were the very first distance academic program. One of our most important distinctions is the fact that we offered the original course and nothing we offered then, or now, is patterned after anything else.  It is as  important to me to maintain that distinction as it was in October 1980 when I started working on the curriculum and March 1981 when I started publicizing it.  There was no other curriculum to look at then, and I do not look at other curriculums now.  In fact have never laid eyes on any midwifery curriculum that has come after ours.  I have seen my curriculum with someone else's name on it and my copyright whited out.  And I have had people who offer other programs admit to me that they "patterned" their program after ours or that they just condensed what we did.  As amazed at I am at the lack of integrity in this matter, I have still never been tempted to look at anyone else's curriculum. I am careful not to compromise my integrity in this area.  I will never borrow someone else's hard work intentionally.....NEVER.
When Carolyn Steiger heard I was writing a book for beginning midwives at the same time she was also writing a book on the topic, she made the first call and we became fast friends.  Her book was published just before a MANA conference in October.  Mine was not published until the next June.  I was thrilled that she gave me one of the very first copies but I glanced through it quickly, in her presence,  and never opened it again until my book was DONE.  In the interim,  Carolyn asked many times for me to read her book.  She was anxious for my opinion. My response was always that I would read it the night I got back from the printer.  She assured me that she trusted me and begged me to read it!  As wonderful as knowing how much faith seh had it me, it was not enough to cause me to take that chance.  I did not want to ever wonder if I had inadvertently changed something or added something to improve upon what Carolyn had already done.  If I deposited my book at the printer before I read her book, I would always know, without a doubt, that I had never leveraged anything from her hard work or claimed something as my own that was really hers. As it turns out, our books were quite different and actually very  complementary.  We are still very good friends.  By the way, Becoming a Midwife has been out of print for some time.  You may hear a rumor that she has given her permission for it to be photocopied or reprinted but I assure you that is not the case. Contact me if you know of any copyright abuse concerning Becoming A Midwife.
I will end here, coming round to my original point.  We have always been original, and will always be original.  If you choose AAMI, you can be sure that you are not getting a reworked version of any other course. That is an important distinction.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bekah on her long-term AAMI relationship

I believe so much in AAMI. I've enrolled twice.  During the term of my first enrollment, some family matters cropped up causing me to put my education on pause.  While deciding whether to re-enroll or to try a shorter, cheaper program, I felt that there was really no comparison.  AAMI gives each student so much in the curriculum, but also in the personal support of Carla and her staff.  She truly believes in her mission of creating more midwifes!  The staff is attentive and responsive.  I've usually received replies within a few hours of emailing my questions, sometimes even when a staff member is supposed to be on "vacation."
Since I've been enrolled a while, I've seen the curriculum through several revisions.  I believe the true value of the curriculum is that not only does it provide a rock solid base in academic midwifery education, but it's complete focus is preparing each student for actual midwifery practice.  Questions and projects are designed to serve you as a professional, not just a student.  Once the course is completed, you will have created all the materials you need to educate clients and support their continued good health from initial contact through postpartum.  You will have also learned how to evaluate controversial topics and seek the very best evidence you can find.  The value of this course far exceeds the price.
Bekah <><
AAMI # 1885 NC7
Doula, Midwifery student in WI

Thursday, September 11, 2008

From AMS Enrollee Vicki Davis

I am currently in the orientation phase of AAMI.  I have been looking at AAMI for 13 years now and finally was able to enroll a few months ago.  I can say that I am NOT disappointed.  So far it is proving to be challenging and thought-provoking.  Just doing the orientation has already stretched me in ways that I needed. I find that when I feel stumped, push through the tough spot and finish a project, I feel an extreme sense of accomplishment.  It is good!  I have been a stay-at-home mom for 23 years and this is the first real "stretch" I have had since high school.  I love being a SAHM, but sometimes, it leaves you feeling a little....oh.....dull.  So far, the assignments I have done for orientation have made me realize that I can do this!  No only is this going to make me a great midwife, I believe it will make me a better and more confidant woman.  Those are added perks!  I am very thankful for this opportunity.
Vicki Davis, CLD, AAMI Student #1967
New Life Birth Services

Intentional Student

Become an intentional student.  Determine to learn something from every conversation and every encounter with a midwife, doula, childbirth educator or parent. Well, for one week, let's make that every person you meet. Make a determination that you will never walk away from a conversation without learning something and make a mental note before you take the second step away.
You will have to learn to listen.  Ask questions.  Even if you are talking with someone with equivalent experience, their experience is bound to differ in some respects.
Listen twice as much as you have two ears and only one mouth.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From AMS enrollee Brenda Parrish

After having served as a direct entry midwife for 14 years, I realized there were gaps in my education and I wanted to enroll in a midwifery school.  There were none within driving distance to my home, so I sought a distance learning program.  I was a good friend to another enrollee and she always spoke very highly of AAMI.  I asked a lot of questions about the way the curriculum was laid out, the types of assignments, how much she felt she was learning, etc.  I only heard good things.  One of my goals was to prepare for the NARM, but even more important, I just wanted to become a better midwife, able to meet the needs of the women who sought me out for their pregnancies and births.  Having been a homeschool mom for all of my children's educational years, I know that accreditation did not necessarily equate to a more superior education, but teaching someone HOW to learn was a lifelong valuable skill.  I knew AAMI had an excellent reputation for producing graduates who were very knowledgeable, but also trusted in the process of birth.  So, I looked into it more seriously.  I withdrew from nursing school and my previous goal of becoming a nurse-midwife and enrolled immediately in AAMI.  Not only was it a bargain for all that I am receiving, but I feel I am getting such a quality education.

Brenda Parrish

AAMI #1876

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Trust Birth