A Message from the President
February 17, 2016
Jessica Jordan, CNM, MSN
As a lifelong Virginia resident and a nurse-midwife for over 20 years, I can tell you that change happens slowly in Virginia, with baby steps. It is easy to see the changes over 20 years. When I became a midwife in Richmond, there was one CNM doing homebirths, and none in the hospital. Now there are two CNM’s doing home births, eight working in the hospital, two hospitals about to add CNM’s to their staff, and a freestanding birth center about to open.
We are on the cusp of great things happening in our state, but we still work in a restrictive regulatory environment. Last year we began to work with other organizations to make some changes in Virginia. We met with the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners, the Clinical Nurse Specialists, and the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists to form a united front in changing our regulations. We wanted the state to adopt the consensus model of the National Boards of Nursing for regulating APRN’s. Unfortunately, that is too big a step for Virginia to take at one time.
We also began meeting with the Virginia Section of the American College of OB-Gyn’s (ACOG) and the Virginia Midwives Alliance, an organization that is predominately Certified Professional Midwives. These meetings facilitated understanding of the barriers to practice and true collaborative relationships. The CNM’s and CPM’s were invited to an ACOG educational meeting for the first time in my recollection.
As the General Assembly approached, the APRN’s knew that we wanted full practice authority, but we also knew the battles to be fought. So the nurse practitioners proposed a bill for full practice authority, and the CNM’s also proposed a bill for full practice authority. We asked for ACOG’s support, and sat down at the table with them and the Medical Society of Virginia. We agreed on a compromise bill, and SB 463 has passed the Senate. Now it will cross over to the House of Delegates, and its fate there is still unknown. It is only possible to move forward in baby steps. Working together with our physician colleagues is crucial to our success in Virginia.
There is much more work to be done by every midwife in Virginia. We need more midwives so every woman has access to a midwife. Midwives have a responsibility to educate the public, and our legislators. There is still much confusion about the initials behind our name, and our scope of practice. I will continue to push for full practice authority, but I know that change takes time, and I need every midwife pushing with me.