This study surveyed individuals in the communities of nurse-midwifery students. Students, identifying themselves as graduate students doing a telephone survey in the area of health care, posed 56 questions to 200 individuals living in New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Nebraska. Survey questions were designed to assess the awareness of the terms midwife and nurse-midwife. Additionally, the survey assessed the sample's perception of the range of services provided by midwives and nurse-midwives, as well as its confidence in having these services provided by a midwife or a nurse-midwife. Demographic data were collected to describe the sample and determine the effects of age, gender, marital status, income, and race on perception and confidence with services. There was a statistically significant relationship between stated familiarity with the terms midwife and nurse-midwife and perception of scope of services and confidence in services. Increased familiarity with the terms midwife and nurse-midwife coincided with a more accurate perception of the scope of services provided by both midwives and nurse-midwives and greater confidence in services provided by midwives and nurse-midwives. Demographic factors studied did not impact on either perception or confidence in services. The data in the survey reveal a large proportion of individuals who report being uncertain about midwives' and nurse-midwives' level of education, scope of services, and relationship to the health care system. This suggests that consumer education could have a sharp impact on shaping the public perception of both mid-wives and nurse-midwives. © 1998 by the American College of Nurse-Midwives.