U of M preps new midwifery degree program


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A midwifery program is due for delivery at the University of Manitoba in 2021.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/05/2020 (1048 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A midwifery program is due for delivery at the University of Manitoba in 2021.

The bachelor’s degree program will be the new baby of the U of M’s College of Nursing, which for the past 18 months has been preparing what will be the only degree in midwifery offered in Manitoba, and one of only two in the Prairies.

“This is a very good opportunity for Manitoba,” said Netha Dyck, dean of the college, part of the university’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Currently, aspiring local midwives would have to look elsewhere for degree certification: Mount Royal University in Calgary, University of British Columbia, the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières, and Ontario universities Ryerson, Laurentian, and McMaster are the only degree-level programs in the country.

Four years ago, when local students wanted to study midwifery, the Winnipeg university partnered with McMaster on an interim program; the students would learn their core materials in Hamilton, and the bulk of their clinical programming would take place in Manitoba. Last year, 12 students from that interim program graduated.

At one point, the U of M and the University College of the North had a joint midwifery program in the works; the program’s funding was cancelled by the PC government in 2016 before it could get off the ground. Before that, UCN ran a program, starting in 2006.

In a news release, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen said: “We are pleased to see midwife training being established right here in Manitoba, and it’s appropriate to be launching this new program during the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.”

Wednesday’s university senate agenda noted a request for $693,000 in provincial funding for the program was not approved, with no new one-time or ongoing funding provided. “The deficiency in resources… to deliver the program will be addressed by the reallocation of resources within the (faculty) as well as through tuition revenue and clinical fees,” the document says.

The curriculum emphasizes Indigenous midwifery practices, with consultation from the Norway House Cree Nation Health Centre of Excellence and the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives.

Darlene Birch, a registered midwife and Métis elder, helped develop the Indigenous content, which includes a required first-year course, plus Indigenous teachings throughout the clinical portion of study.

One goal of the program is to provide culturally appropriate practices and reduce the need for women to travel long distances to give birth in a manner they desire.

There will be six slots for students, with three reserved for Indigenous applicants. Applications are due April 1, 2021.

Approximately 80 per cent of the degree training will take place in a clinical setting — a high proportion meant to prepare graduates for independent practice. To graduate and be registered, students are required to support 60 births, including 40 as the primary midwife.

In Manitoba, midwifery has been a licensed profession since 2000. According to the Canadian Association of Midwives, there are 57 practicing and 25 non-practicing midwives registered in the province.

About 6.4 per cent of births in Manitoba involved midwives, the association said, but in provinces with degree programs, and in territories with a high Indigenous population, many more women get help from midwives when giving birth.

In B.C., 22.4 per cent of births involved midwives; in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, where there are only five registered midwives, 13.4 per cent and 9.5 per cent of all births did, respectively.


Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.

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