Teaching Diversity at Midwifery School

Recently, I was asked to teach the diversity course to the first year students at my midwifery school. I was completely surprised and honored to be asked to do so. At my school, the diversity class is a brief 3-hour seminar. That, coupled with one other brief seminar on cultural competency in the second year is the full extent of time we spend talking and thinking about anything that amounts to reproductive justice in my book. It is the only time we have to explore and examine providing birth services to folks who are not White, middle or upper class, straight, Christian, able-bodied, English-speaking, American citizens (etc. etc. etc.) clients. It is something I think homebirth midwives on the whole do not talk enough about, but that’s a whole other post meant for another day. However, I do think it’s crucial to give all midwifery students a good basic understanding of the issues at play here and some tools to keep exploring.

As far as I could tell, the class went over fairly well. It definitely was a good learning ground for myself and how I might design future trainings. I started the class by telling the students that I hoped they walked out of the class with their interest piqued, curious to learn more. Basically, we talked about the meanings of prejudice and oppression, broke down the ways in which oppression is systemic, and then talked about the ways in which we can change things, both on an individual and a systemic level. There’s not a whole lot you can learn about anti-oppression work and reproductive justice in 3 hours, so I viewed this as just the tippy tippy top of the iceberg. My hope was that if I gave them just a taste that they would go home wanting more and delve into more learning on their own.

The next exciting part of this story is that just today I volunteered to offer this training to my class and it looks like it might be offered to local midwives who are interested as well. This seems like a good place for me to get started and hopefully keep talking to folks about these issues. My hope is that some more awareness of anti-racism, anti-oppression, and reproductive justice work can truly transform midwifery.

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4 responses to “Teaching Diversity at Midwifery School

  1. If you think that teaching cultural competency will help than I think that could quickly be made widespread. Midwives everywhere need continuing ed, and harass NARM long enough and maybe they’ll require it as part of the CPM credential. Though nurses and docs already are required to do cultural competency training and that leaves us with a medical workfore that is still largely.. not so competent on that front. I think this article (aimed at nurses) has a decent overview of what it takes to cultivate that interest in diversity. (Scroll down to the little volcano doodle if nothing else) Many Faces: Addressing Diversity in Health Care. I like how “Cultural Encounters” is a little bigger than the other things. As in, ENCOUNTER different folks, folks. I’ve got a couple other resources up my sleeve but I think I’ll tack them with your other post, fit there a little better.

  2. Wow! Wow, wow, wow, Krystel, that is so exciting! This is definitely something we’re going to be talking about at our day-long planning meeting for Full Spectrum Doulas this weekend. I’m really excited to hear from some of the other core organizers and together draft our first statement on diversity and inclusion goals for FSD. I can’t wait till we can chat more, I’d love to hear more details of what kinds of activities you did and how they went.

  3. So awesome! If you have time and are inclined, I’d love to see some of the resources you used and/or your ‘curriculum’ for the workshop. I imagine it would be so handy for so many.

    • Thanks Lauren! The curriculum I used was from a nonprofit called Spirit in Action. I took their train the leaders training in 2006 for their Circles of Change program which looks at anti-oppression training as a cornerstone to any activist’s career and uses spirituality/religion as a means of justifying this work and avoiding burnout. I found it to be incredibly transformative. Their curriculum is very good. At some point, I’ll put together a more detailed outline of what my training looked like so that other folks can take it and use it as they will.

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