Saturday, February 28, 2009

To MEAC or not to MEAC

The answer is probably not to MEAC.

MEAC is the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council, and if an apprentice midwife graduates from a MEAC school, she is automatically eligible to take the NARM exam, and upon passing is a
Certified Professional Midwife. (The NARM exam is the North American Registry of Midwives certifying exam. Midwifery is legislated by state, and most -- all? -- states require a midwife to pass the NARM in order to become licensed.) If I go to a non-MEAC school, I can still take the NARM, but as a PEP (portfolio entry process) which is a time-consuming pain in the ass, from what I understand. However, I'm still pretty confused about the entire process. Like, Christine, a local apprentice who attends a non-MEAC school, told me that if the state I want to license in recognizes the non-MEAC school I choose as a "path to education," I don't need to do the PEP process. And South Carolina, which is the state I want to license in, recognizes several non-MEAC schools as paths to midwifery.

Regardless, I'm keeping really careful records of everything I do. Apparently there can be a lot of red tape in becoming a midwife if you don't attend a MEAC school.

I would love to attend a MEAC school, but most of them are residential programs, and most of them are prohibitively expensive. (There's some more red tape about getting student loans for midwifery schools.) And then there's the fact that Dustin's company increased their employees' contribution to healthcare, which translates into us being down $200 per month. We do not have an extra $200 per month to compensate, much less an extra $200 per month plus $20,000 for midwifery school.

I've always wanted to be a licensed midwife. However, I didn't plan on starting midwifery education and training until my kids were older -- I didn't think I had the time or the money. But in January I started an online CBE training course, and I managed to strike a balance between learning and studying, and spending quality time with the kids. I also met Leigh in January. She talked to me about her experience, first in midwifery school with young kids, and now as a midwife with young kids. She asked me, if midwifery is my dream, how long am I willing to put it off? And if I do put it off, what will be the personal cost?

Around this time she told me she was looking for an apprentice, and since she didn't have one, I asked if I could sit in on a prenatal or two. From there, she asked if I would attend a birth with her as her assistant, and then she offered to train me, and here I am. A currently-unlicensed South Carolina apprentice midwife. (I'm just waiting on the results of my second TB test, and also I have to register with a midwifery school, and then I can get my apprentice license.)

So back to the school issue. I'm currently leaning toward Ancient Arts Midwifery Institute, which is not a MEAC accredited school, but it is a school that South Carolina recognizes as a path to education for midwifery. (Will have to do more research. Of course.) AAMI will accept a monthly payment plan for three years, interest-free. Everyone I know in the online world -- as well as several people in real life, including Christine -- say that AAMI is an excellent education, so thorough that most students pass the NARM before even graduating! Christine is a RN, and she has told me that AAMI is as difficult as nursing school. Also, the fact that it's recognized in South Carolina is a huge bonus. If I didn't have to do the PEP process, that would be fantastic. (But I'm doing the paperwork for it so far, just in case.)

The money thing will be difficult, as always. Dustin's salary going down $3000/year really scares me. I'm trying to look the money issue in the eye and figure it out. It's math. I shouldn't let it scare me. On the other hand, when I'm apprenticing and studying, I'm not going to be taking very many doula clients, so that might will some impact on our finances. Plus I'll need books and some supplies. Eeek.

But the program is only three years. In three years, I will be able to license and become a midwife. That's pretty exciting.


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