Midwifery isn’t a profession for the faint of heart

It takes hours, sometimes days to bring life into this world the natural way. Furthermore, in some states, midwives are still fighting to gain the legal rights of other medical professionals and the collaborative relationships with doctors and hospitals that they need to practice safely.

For those with a passion for midwifery, these barriers are overshadowed by the honor of working with families before, during, and right after birth. Midwives have a unique opportunity to form trusting relationships with the people they work with, lending them confidence, wisdom, and the space to give birth in their own way surrounded by the people they love.

Who are Certified Professional Midwives?

Certified Professional Midwives are national credentialed autonomous healthcare professionals who care for pregnant people through the pregnancy, the birth and up to 6 weeks post partum. CPMs attend births in the home setting or in freestanding birth centers. The profession is growing significantly and each year more states pass licensing laws to regulate their practice—currently there are 29 states that license CPMs and many more that allow practice without regulation.

As the evidence showing the safety of birth outside the hospital setting mounts, more and more families are choosing this option and we need midwives to serve them in every community.

What is Birthwise looking for in an applicant?

  • Midwives are exposed to blood, urine, feces, vaginal secretions, and amniotic fluid on a regular basis, so we look for applicants who are willing to get their hands dirty (prior experience in healthcare is a big plus).
  • Occasionally midwives must respond urgently to a life-or-death situation, so we look for applicants who are highly responsible.
  • Midwives counsel clients on personal subjects like nutrition, emotional wellbeing, sex, breastfeeding, and parenting, so we look for applicants with great interpersonal skills.
  • Midwives abstain from drugs and alcohol while on call. They also deal regularly with physicians who may or may not have positive views of midwifery. We look for applicants with the  professionalism to take on these challenges.
  • Midwives often work long, unpredictable hours that interfere with other obligations, so we look for applicants with the flexibility to embrace the midwife lifestyle.
  • Midwives often run their own practices, so we look for applicants who are self-motivated and independent.
  • You can serve pregnant people in many different ways. We’re looking for applicants who are passionate about the Midwives Model of Care in particular.

There is no single ideal candidate, but all applicants should understand the demands of the profession and feel a strong calling to this work. The ability to learn at a fast pace, work well with people, articulate as well as listen, and have the ability to provide compassionate hands-on care will serve you well at Birthwise.

Past academic performance is not always a reliable indicator of who will make an excellent midwife but can be helpful to show us you will be able to handle our rigorous class load. Ultimately however, experience and commitment will determine your success at Birthwise. We look for strong (in whatever way you manifest it) individuals with the determination, resilience, and work ethic to become excellent midwives.

Are there any prerequisites to enrollment at Birthwise?

We require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent and have taken a doula training workshop. We also require a CPR course.

Prior experience in birth work, perhaps as a doula, is a plus when looking at applications but is not a prerequisite. We strongly encourage applicants to take a college level Anatomy and Physiology course prior to applying to Birthwise but do not require it.

Does Birthwise offer Financial Aid?

Yes. Birthwise is a Title IV fund receiving school. To determine if you are eligible to receive Federal Student Aid you will need to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.ed.gov. If you have any questions regarding Financial Aid please contact our Financial Aid Officer Elizabeth McKinnon at [email protected]

Does Birthwise offer any scholarships?:

We have two scholarships that students may apply for: The Midwives of Color scholarship, and the Underserved Communities scholarship. These both include a tuition reduction and a books/materials stipend. Tuition reductions are based on individual student need as determined by the FAFSA.

What is the difference between the Campus and Community options?

The campus and community options are two different paths through the same program. The academic, clinical, curriculum, and credit requirements are the approximately the same, with a few variations. The difference between these two options is the way that students reach their clinical and credit goals for graduation.

Campus: Semester one begins in LATE APRIL. Campus students spend two to three days per week at the Birthwise campus from fall to spring, similar to a traditional postsecondary education program, for the first 3.5 semesters of their time at Birthwise. Campus students live locally and travel to Birthwise weekly when attending academic course work. Additionally, campus students are required to attend clinical rotations in their second and third semesters. This involves being placed with a local midwife to gain clinical experiences during this time. After the academic work is completed, campus students then complete the bulk of their clinical work – often relocating away from Maine.

Community: Semester one begins in EARLY AUGUST. Community students spend five days per week for two weeks at a time, several times per year, at the Birthwise campus for the first five semesters of school. In the first or second semester, community students start their clinical learning with midwives in their home community and continue this clinical learning while traveling to Maine for their academic sessions. The third year is similar for Campus and Community students as they are in their preceptorship and gaining clinical experience to meet their graduation requirements. Birthwise does not offer distance or online classes.

When do you enroll new students?

Each new campus cohort begins in late April; each new community cohort begins in early August. We begin accepting applications for either cohort in mid-September, with a campus deadline of December 6th and a community deadline of February 14th. Scholarship application deadlines for each cohort are the same as admissions deadlines.

Does Birthwise provide housing?

Students are responsible for arranging their own housing when they come to Birthwise. Some students choose to rent a home or apartment with other members of their cohort, and some students choose to live separately. Whenever Birthwise hears of housing opportunities in the area they will provide this information to students. Learn more on the accepted students page.

What is Bridgton, Maine like?

Bridgton is a small, rural town in the Lakes Region of Western Maine. The Birthwise campus is a short walk to Highland lake, a 10 minute drive to Shawnee Peak ski resort, a 30 minute drive to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and a one hour drive to Maine’s largest city, Portland. Learn more.

Can I practice as a CPM in my state?

How and where CPMs decide to practice is a very personal decision. Please consider where you would like to practice and investigate the statutes regulating midwifery in that state. NARM has a list of the legal status of direct-entry midwives in each state on their website.

What is a preceptorship?

The bulk of experiential and hands-on learning in a student’s training at Birthwise happens in the preceptorship, a one-on-one training relationship arranged by the student with a practicing midwife. There are certain states in which a Birthwise student cannot precept including New York, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, New Mexico, Kentucky and Oregon. Please contact the Clinical Director for a complete list of states. Preceptorship begins in the fourth semester for campus students, and in the second semester for community students. Students remain in their preceptorship until they’ve completed their required numbers and are ready to graduate. Although Birthwise will assist students in locating a preceptorship site, we do not guarantee placement or completion of the preceptorship.

Can prior learning be applied towards graduation from Birthwise?

In certain circumstances Birthwise grants credit for previous education and experience in midwifery or birth. See our Advanced Status page for more information.

What are the Graduation Requirements for Birthwise?

Birthwise holds all its students to a high academic and practical standard. See our graduation requirements.