The American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and the Journal of Nurse-Midwifery (JNM) are proud to introduce two awards that celebrate excellence in writing within the field of midwifery. The awards are to be given to authors whose distinguished works are deemed to best exemplify the art and science of midwifery. While one award will honor the printed word in books, the other will specifically recognize articles published by JNM.

The idea of establishing awards to recognize authors whose writings promote the profession of midwifery took seed during the 42nd annual meeting of the ACNM in May 1997. Shortly thereafter, Dick Geyer, ACNM marketing representative, obtained financial support in order to sponsor a Journal of Nurse-Midwifery paper of the year award. Coincidentally, in November 1997, Ann Richter, CNM, MPH, who was then the ACNM Region 3 Representative, introduced the concept of formally presenting an award for a published book to the ACNM Board of Directors. This was followed by the creation of an awards committee in order to develop criteria and, ultimately, to name winners in both categories; membership comprised select members of the JNM's editorial board.

At first, the idea of acknowledging outstanding authors seemed simple; however, the task at hand quickly became a formidable one. The JNM is fortunate to have published many excellent articles that have brought a wealth of information to its readers. Research unique to midwifery, critical literature reviews, and scholarly papers that integrate several disciplines with a midwifery focus were highly commended by this committee and the editorial board. Moreover, committee members lauded the growth in the number of high quality books that have been published in recent years on midwifery and women's health. Thus, it became even more evident how appropriate the timing was to begin honoring writers who were truly the best of the best. The criteria on which the selection of winners were based include relevancy of the works to the advancement of midwifery, originality, accuracy, currency and documentation of content, comprehensiveness, and written presentation.

The Journal of Nurse-Midwifery Excellence in Writing Award, sponsored by the Medasonics Company, was presented at the 1998 ACNM Annual Meeting to coauthors Deborah S. Walker, DNSc, CNM, CS, FNP and Deborah Koniak-Griffin, RN, EdD, FAAN for their article, “Evaluation of a Reduced-Frequency Prenatal Visit Schedule for Low-Risk Women at a Free-Standing Birthing Center,” which was published in the July/August 1997 (Vol. 42 No. 4) issue of JNM. In their article, Walker and Koniak-Griffin set out to evaluate the effectiveness of a reduced-frequency prenatal visit schedule by comparing perinatal outcome, anxiety, and maternal satisfaction with prenatal care. The authors used a modified version of recommendations from a 1986 expert panel convened by the United States Health and Human Services Low Birthweight Prevention Work Group. Their research showed that low-risk women who followed this reduced-visit schedule experienced no differences in perinatal outcomes or anxiety and, additionally, did note an increased level of satisfaction with their antenatal care.

The ACNM Book Award, sponsored by Stryker Medical, was presented to Helen Varney Burst, CNM, MS, DHL(Hon), FACNM for her book, the third edition of Varney's Midwifery. Each edition of Varney has stood as the heralded textbook of midwifery. As reviewed in JNM, “its expansion in size and scope make it the definitive text for midwives and one that clearly serves as a primary reference for the profession.” The review concludes … “it is worth its weight in gold” (1).

In addition to a monetary award, all of the recipients received a certificate. A permanent wall trophy will also be provided by the sponsoring companies and prominently displayed at ACNM Headquarters in Washington, DC and at the Headquarters of both Medasonics Company and Stryker Medical. Their support for these awards demonstrates the pride that these companies have to be associated with the ACNM.

It is hoped that both Excellence in Writing Awards will become an annual tradition and that they will be the impetus for even higher standards in publishing. Mid-wives who attended the education program, “Writing and Publishing for Midwives: Let a Thousand Authors Bloom,” at the ACNM's 43rd Annual Meeting in May 1998 came away with a renewed respect for the contribution to midwifery that published writers make; many attendees reported that they had been inspired and energized to take advantage of the opportunities that exist for potential JNM authors. The intent of the program was to demystify the writing process and to encourage more midwives to take on the authorship challenge. As co-presenters, Jeanne Raisler, CNM, DrPH, Mary Ann Shah, CNM, MS, FACNM, and William McCool, CNM, PhD detailed strategies for scientific writing that include selecting a topic, writing for a specific audience, and preparing an abstract and guidelines for manuscript preparation. These JNM representatives also depicted the amount of dedication, persistence, red ink, and “blood, sweat, and tears” that is involved in taking any paper from draft format, to final copy, to proofs, and ultimately to print, and underscored how the blinded peer review process helps to ensure the standard of quality that JNM readers have come to expect.

Finally, the JNM editorial board would like to again congratulate the winners of the first annual Excellence in Writing awards and encourage all midwives to take the initial steps necessary to delve into the writing process. Practitioners and educators alike have a responsibility to share their unique experiences, observations, and wisdom with colleagues, thus continuing a priceless tradition of disseminating midwifery knowledge through the pages of JNM while documenting for the generations that follow what it is that midwives do so safely, humanely, and competently. It was Louis Pasteur who noted “… let us piously gather up every word, every incident likely to make known the incentive of (man's) great soul for the education of posterity” (2).