Midwifery Education Program

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Midwifery as a Career

The Profession

Midwives are registered health-care professionals who provide primary care to women with low-risk pregnancies — from the time of conception until six weeks postpartum (after birth). Midwives work in community-based group practices with a team of other midwives, providing care on a 24 hour, seven-day-a-week model. No two days will be alike. Working as a midwife requires a keen intelligence combined with flexibility and compassion. Midwives collaborate with other health care providers such as physicians, nurses and social workers.

Midwifery is a career that allows you to use your head, your hands, and your heart. Working as a midwife requires resourcefulness and adaptability. Working with women and their families during the childbearing year offers many satisfactions as well as challenges.

Highly trained health professionals, midwives are required to have a four-year university degree, must qualify for registration with the College of Midwives of Ontario (CMO), and are expected to engage in lifelong learning. Midwives need a thorough understanding of normal and complex conditions affecting pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum care of women and the newborn. They must draw on a large body of knowledge and sometimes make clinical judgments under stressful or emergency situations. Midwives participate in health care planning and policy making at local, national and international levels.

In addition to being responsible for supervising the birth process - conducting spontaneous, normal vaginal births in both home and hospital settings - midwives provide ongoing clinical care for women throughout pregnancy. After birth, they counsel mothers and their families on infant care and continue to monitor the mother's and infant's health for a six week period. Manual dexterity is required in assisting women through labour and birth and in tasks such as giving injections, setting up IVs, suturing perineal tears, and conducting physical examinations of women and newborn babies.

Communication, cultural sensitivity and counseling skills are essential components of midwifery work. Midwives get to know the women they care for, developing an awareness of their needs and earning their confidence. Collaboration with other members of the health care team requires well developed communication skills. Midwives build non-authoritarian relationships with women and their families, enabling midwives to provide individualized, responsive care and minimizing much of the anxiety often associated with pregnancy and childbirth. One of the great pleasures of the job is sharing in the the birth experience and the arrival of a new life.

About Midwifery in Ontario

In 2009, Ontario midwives celebrated the completion of fifteen years of regulated and funded midwifery and by the year 2008, there were over 412 registered midwives in the province. Ontario was the first province in Canada to regulate and legislate midwifery. The profession is now regulated in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec and the Northwest Territories. Other provinces and territories are in the process of integrating midwifery into their health care systems.

The Ontario model of midwifery is based on three principles:

  • Continuity of Care - Midwifery care is available to women throughout their pregnancy, labour, birth, and the first six weeks after birth. Midwives spend time developing relationships with women and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Surveys of Ontario women who have used midwives have shown that pregnant women consistently give high priority to working with a "known care provider." Women value the opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with their midwives. This relationship allows midwives to provide individualized and responsive care. A known care provider removes much of the anxiety from childbirth, and this often results in greater client satisfaction and fewer costly interventions.
  • Informed Choice - Women are active decision-makers in the care they receive; midwives give information to help women make informed decisions.
  • Choice of Birthplace - Midwifery clients may choose to give birth at home or in hospital. Midwives maintain hospital privileges at many Ontario hospitals and work collaboratively with other health care practitioners.

Healthy Outcomes

Statistics gathered since 1994 have consistently shown that midwife-delivered babies are healthy, and have less need for further hospitalization or medical attention. International evidence overwhelmingly supports the fact that midwifery care is as safe and efficient as care by other providers. Data gathered in Ontario both before and after regulation (1994) is consistent with international evidence about midwifery.

There are two routes by which midwives can achieve registration in Ontario. First, they may graduate from the Ontario Midwifery Education Program (MEP). This is the four-year BHSc (Midwifery) degree Program offered by a consortium of three universities - Ryerson University, McMaster and Laurentian Universities. The second route is for those midwives who have been educated in other jurisdictions and who may qualify for registration by completing the International Midwifery Pre-Registration Program (IMPP) through Ryerson University Continuing Education Department. The MEP and IMPP thoroughly prepare midwives to support, counsel, monitor, and assist pregnant and birthing women and their babies. Midwives must also fulfill the College of Midwives of Ontario's registration requirements.

Each year approximately 50 new midwives are registered which will make midwifery care available to more women throughout Ontario. Continuing education is mandatory for all midwives in Ontario. Midwives are constantly upgrading their skills and participating in regular mandatory peer review. Colleagues and clients provide ongoing, formal feedback that ensures midwives are providing high quality, responsive care.

As a partner in the Ontario Midwifery Education Program, Ryerson University collaborates with the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM), the College of Midwives of Ontario and midwifery consumer groups to continue the development of an outstanding midwifery care system for women and their families in Ontario.

Why Ryerson?

The midwifery program at Ryerson offers flexible part-time options for completing your midwifery degree in 4-6 years. Located in central Toronto, Ryerson is situated in the heart of Toronto's diverse multicultural community. It is accessible via public transit from the GTA as well as for students from across the province.

The midwifery faculty members are highly respected leaders in the midwifery profession. Members of the midwifery faculty also maintain clinical practice. They regularly publish in professional journals and give presentations in national and international forums. The Ryerson midwifery program is part of a consortium with McMaster and Laurentian universities. Our students share tutorial groups and midwifery faculty tutors with the consortium in the clinical courses.

Graduates from our BHSc (Midwifery) program are eligible for registration in Ontario and meet internationally accepted standards. Career prospects are excellent. Ryerson midwifery graduates have worked in midwifery practices across Ontario, in other parts of Canada and the world.

Career Listings

If you are looking for a list of job opportunities in midwifery, please visit the Association of Ontario Midwives at http://www.aom.on.ca/AOM/Career_Opportunities/

 

Now What?: Midwifery - a video for Ryerson grads and anyone considering a career in Midwifery about current employment issues.

Also watch the full-length interviews of Lisa Weston from Rouge-Valley Midwives and Professor Manavi Handa.

 

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