Deep Gratitude: Or How to Precept a Midwifery Student

I cannot even tell you what deep gratitude I have for my current preceptor. For a long time, I have believed very strongly that we need to midwife our students in the same way we midwife our clients. Unfortunately, that is often not the case. I plan to look more deeply at the cycle of abuse that is tied up in so many of our stories as we move from student to midwife. But that’s beside the point right now, because this is a post of thanksgiving.

For me, midwifery has been a long journey, not only to learn the skills and knowledge of being a midwife, but of stepping into myself as the person I want to be in this world. I thought I had been doing this my whole life, this work of stepping into myself. Midwifery taught me that I had only seen the tip of the iceberg. To me, midwifery seems to be the sort of calling that is deeply transformative on every level of your life. I am deepening my understanding of myself professionally, personally, spiritually, discovering who I am as a midwife, and working hard to come into my own.

I don’t think it gets much better than this with a preceptor. She is an excellent and thoughtful teacher. She cares about me as an individual and celebrates my successes. In many ways, she sees my successes as her own – which they are in part since she had such a big hand in molding me into the midwife I am today and who I will continue to develop into. Some of the highlights:

  • She initiates conversations with me when she sense I need to discuss something. Usually, before I even get the chance to ask to have the conversation. She makes communication with her easy and welcomes it. I never have to worry about whether “I’m bothering her” if I need to discuss or process something.
  • She focuses on teaching me how to think as a midwife, not just the hard skills. I know that when I leave her practice, she’ll feel like I’m ready to be a practicing midwife. I don’t know that anyone graduates from their midwifery education feeling fully ready to be out on their own, but at least I’ll know that she thinks I can do it.
  • She welcomes differing opinions. She lets me do things my way even if she doesn’t do it that way herself. If I learned something different in school or from a previous midwife, we look it up and discuss it.
  • She does everything she can to help me reach my educational goals. I mean everything.
  • She works to help clients trust and like me. If clients ask a question in an appointment, I often find her eyes on me as well, signaling subtly to the clients that I am just as competent to answer this question as she is. At births if I am acting as primary under supervision, she gives me the space to make decisions and do most of the work. Of course, she’s always there if I need her, but she works on pushing me to be my best.
  • When I ask for something to change, it happens immediately. It’s impressive, honestly, to be so deeply listened to.
    • For example, shortly after I came to Arizona I expressed that it would be more helpful for me when palpating a woman’s belly to either go first or have her not tell me the position of the baby if she palpates first. That way I can learn to trust my own hands and not just get what I expect to get based on what she said. The very next appointment she made the switch and has never ever gone back.
    • After a birth that was difficult for me, she was trying to get me to process with her. I told her I’m a bit of a slow processor, and don’t always know how I feel about things fully until a day or two later (which is true). The next birth I attended with her, she checked in with me immediately afterwards. She said, “I know you’re a slow processor, but I just wanted to check to see if you had any immediate thoughts” and then indicated that we could talk about this later too.

Precepting a student is just as much of a skill, art, and calling as it is to be a midwife. I feel such deep gratitude for this woman who has welcomed me into her practice and into her life with such a big and open heart. Thank you, from the bottom of mine.

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2 responses to “Deep Gratitude: Or How to Precept a Midwifery Student

    • Thank you. It’s not been an easy road to this preceptor. I know you’ve similarly had an extremely difficult journey. Which is part of why I feel so strongly we need to change the system. Seems like it could do to extend that change into CNM training as well.

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