It would appear that the time is now for the American College of Nurse-Midwifery to determine immediate and future goals and concern itself actively with making those goals operative.
That there is a crying need for more doctors and more better prepared nurses to care for mothers before, during, and after childbirth is well established.
That the nurse-midwife is prepared to provide safe, satisfying care under medical guidance is attested by all obstetricians with whom she has worked. As Dr. Nicholson J. Eastman declared at the recent Maternity Center Association conference, “It is my well-considered opinion that the nurse-midwife, by whatever name she may be called, has a unique contribution to make to maternity care in the United States…. Let me make it plain that the nurse-midwife has much more to contribute to maternity care in the United States than as a stop-gap to meet any shortage in obstetric personnel. By working closely with these young women for some eight years, I can say without equivocation that the scrupulous care and devoted attention which these nurse-midwives render throughout pregnancy, labor and puerperium, can be appreciated only by those who have seen it…. As for the attitude of patients toward them — mothers who have had the care of a nurse-midwife, and subsequently come back to us for another pregnancy, invariably insist on a nurse-midwife.”
Dr. C. Lee Buxton, Professor of Obstetrics at Yale's Medical School, recently wrote, “The obstetrician today is likely to be so critically involved in long and irregular hours of work that he not only has no time for thinking, contemplation and recreation, but he must sacrifice health, time with his family, and sometimes even his skill in order to make himself available to care for this ever-increasing obstetric load…. This is a challenge which we cannot avoid. And, frankly, if we as obstetricians and obstetric nurses do not accept this challenge, and find a solution for it, the solution will probably be found for us, and probably to the detriment of everybody.” Dr. Buxton believes that “The accomplishment of obstetric objectives could be immeasurably assisted by recognition of and help from the nurse-midwife.”
Dr. Lous M. Hellman, Chief Obstetrician, Kings County Hospital, Brooklyn, N. Y., said, “No matter how you look at that word, “nurse-midwife,” it just doesn't have a good connotation for Americans — except to those who have worked with them, or been attended by them, and then, believe me, a shiny little halo hovers over it.”
There is need, now, to establish plans for accreditation of nurse-midwifery schools; to encourage the development of more schools, and to recruit student nurse-midwives who are dedicated to the service of mothers and babies.
This is a challenging frontier in human service.