by Dawn Durain, CNM, ACNM Vice President
I was trying to find some news coverage on the Sonia Sotomayor hearings on Wednesday afternoon, when suddenly there was President Obama on the White House steps surrounded by women! This being an atypical sight, I quickly unmuted. As it turned out, the people accompanying the president were mostly nurses and members of the Congressional Nursing Caucus—nurses in the Rose Garden! Nurses were being praised by the president for their dedication, ability to convey complex information to patients, and skills in caring for women in labor and their nervous husbands—all of this from the personal experiences of President Obama no less.
The occasion of the speech was, of course, to mark a significant step by Congress toward health care reform. I encourage you to read the Senate and House legislation and the president’s speech for yourself. I find the recognition of the work of nurses refreshing—more refreshing than the recent spate of TV shows featuring nurses for sure! I found myself hoping for the impossible though. Would the president mention nurse-midwives when he spoke of his experiences when his daughters were born? He didn’t. Would he mention the importance of nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), and certified midwives (CMs) as primary care providers when he spoke of the need for coordinated health care? He didn’t do that either. But, the legislation he referenced does, thanks to the hard work of our ACNM staff and midwives around the country who are talking and talking and talking to their representatives in Congress. Wednesday felt like a giant step forward. And maybe next time the White House will invite a midwife to the Rose Garden!
On a personal note, I’d like to give a shout-out to Keisha Walker, one of the nurses President Obama introduced who was there with him. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Nursing and worked on two projects in my Public Policy class at UPenn. She was passionate about nurses being involved in the political process and about the ability of nurses to have an impact on reproductive health care policy. She is currently at Johns Hopkins as a nurse researcher in their MPH program and clearly still involved in health care policy. Way to go, Keisha! Who is next in line to talk to the president about midwifery?