From Ashley Kliewer, PA-C, Director, Advanced Practice
National Midwife Week
, celebrated Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, was created by the American College of Nurse-Midwives. LG Health celebrate midwives and their positive impact on women’s health.
CNMs not only attend births but provide primary and reproductive care to women of all ages. Certified Nurse Midwives are registered nurses who have graduated from a nurse-midwifery education program accredited by the ACME—earning a master’s degree—have passed a national certification examination to become board-certified, maintain continuing education credits, and recertify through module-based examinations every five years. CNMs in Pennsylvania are licensed and regulated by both the State Board of Nursing and the State Board of Medicine. As of February, there were 12,218 CNMs in the United States, attending on average 350,000 births per year.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reported that 49 percent of U.S. counties do not have obstetric care providers, and a 25 percent shortage of obstetricians/gynecologists is predicted by 2030. In a systematic review of midwifery care in the United States, investigators concluded that the findings provide evidence that care by CNMs is safe, effective and should be better utilized to address the projected health-care workforce shortages. Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the midwifery profession is anticipated to grow by 25 percent from 2014-2024. For more information about midwifery, visit www.midwife.org and hear about midwifery practice in the hospital setting.
The first LG Health midwife, who began in early 1994, was Jane Ziegenfus-Martin, CNM, employed by Obstetrics and Gynecology of Lancaster. Gita Dhillon, CNM, started in May 1994, and worked for May-Grant. Lancaster General Women and Babies Hospital is now home to 13 nurse-midwives. Midwives perform just under one-third of all deliveries at WBH, or more than half of all the vaginal deliveries.
Q&A with Cheri Gard CNM, CRNP, a Dedicated Midwife for Over 20 Years
Tell me about your career background.
I earned my Bachelor’s in Nursing from Pennsylvania State University. I worked at Lancaster General Hospital as a labor and delivery nurse and became a clinical instructor at the nursing school, teaching obstetrics. During that time, I went on to receive my master’s degree at the University of Maryland and became a Women’s Health and Adult Health Certified Nurse Practitioner. I then worked in family practice for a few years before completing my post-graduate degree in midwifery through University of Pennsylvania. I was the first midwife to become employed by Ob-Gyn, Ltd. and then continued my practice in nurse-midwifery at Drs. Eichenlaub and May since its inception 15 years ago.
I have delivered over 3,000 babies in my career to date. I serve on the Performance Improvement Committee, Maternal-Fetal Medicine high-risk committee and the Advanced Practice Steering Committee.
What do you like best about your career in nurse-midwifery?
I have always had a passion for women’s health and being a strong advocate for women to get the birth they want and deserve. My philosophy is to rid the world of every bad birth story and to have every woman enjoy and have a good birth experience. I enjoy being a part of a small practice, where I can truly get to know my patients—maximizing comfort and trust between myself and my patient. For the first 10 years of my practice, I took call six out of seven days, seeing patients in the office four of those days per week because I like to work and I enjoy being there for my patients and their families through their entire birth experiences. In fact, there are a few families that I have delivered all five and six of their babies. You really become a part of their family after all the years. Now I’m even the gynecologist for some of the patients that I actually delivered as babies.
Tell me about life outside of work.
I am married with two daughters. One is a lawyer, and one will complete her training to become an optometrist in May 2020. I love animals and advocating for animal rights. Recently, I went to Kanab, Utah, and volunteered at Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary, which homes 1,600 homeless animals. I have one rescue dog, Macy, and a horse we rescued off of the race track. I am a big Penn State football fan and enjoy going to Penn State bowl games.