At the 1988 Annual Convention in Detroit, the membership voted to establish the first official “club” of the ACNM—the Half-Century Club. CNMs aged 50 years and older were invited to join this exclusive “sorority” of college members.
The main purpose of the Club's genesis would seem to be social; however, the fact that such a club is now possible within the ACNM is an important historic and practical matter. Although many younger CNMs feel like they are still pioneers in this profession, it's sobering to realize that some of the Half-Century Club members have been chipping away at the American medical establishment for 30 years already.
As the mature population in America is growing at a rapid rate, so too will the proportion of seasoned members in the ACNM. The 1982 survey of ACNM members showed that in 1982, 15% of the respondents were over age 50 and another 9% were aged 45–49.1 Extrapolating to 1988, approximately one-quarter of our pool of CNMs are now older than age 50.
Midwifery is a physically demanding profession and primarily a woman's profession. As such, CNMs are faced with some necessary breaks in our careers—during pregnancy and when our children are very young, and again as our own bodies slow down and as we have responsibilities to care for more aged parents.
As our membership ages, we need to look at ways that the clinical experience and wisdom of our older members is not lost to the profession. Many of our senior members have moved into positions of leadership and administration at their institutions. Some may find an academic schedule more attractive at this age. But how can services accommodate senior members who would like to remain in clinical practice?
reative work schedules, such as no night call, or a day scheduled off after being on call, or eight-hour maximum call shifts, may be necessary for older CNMs. Part-time or job-sharing schedules would be useful. Sabbaticals from practice every five to ten years of service as in academia may help recharge worn batteries. Temporary assignments such as vacation replacements and holding a midwifery line open until a full-time staff member can be hired are valuable contributions senior members can make. Buddying an older midwife with a new graduate or midwifery intern could combine the experience of one with the energy and enthusiasm of the other.
Availability of retirement insurance and liability insurance for older part-time or temporary workers needs to be addressed, as do salary increments that recognize the experience of the practitioner. As these options become reality, the ACNM might find that recruitment of mature students into midwifery educational programs is improved as well.
I salute the members of ACNM's Half-Century Club. May your contributions continue to enhance the profession of midwifery in the United States!