UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -
UBC Public Affairs
UBC Reports
UBC Reports Extras
Goal / Circulation / Deadlines
Letters to the Editor & Opinion Pieces / Feedback
UBC Reports Archives
Media Releases
Services for Media
Services for the Community
Services for UBC Faculty & Staff
Find UBC Experts
Search Site

UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 5 | May 5, 2005

UBC “Births” First Midwifery Class

By Hilary Thomson

Seven UBC students will be picking up a BMW at Spring Congregation, but they won’t be driving away in a luxury import.

The grads will be getting a Bachelor of Midwifery degree, the first ever conferred at UBC.

“It’s very exciting to birth our first graduating class,” says Elaine Carty, director of the program, which is part of the Faculty of Medicine’s Dept. of Family Practice. “These are fabulous, motivated students and are UBC’s first wave of what we know will be a valued part of maternity care in B.C.”

B.C. is the third province in Canada -- after Ontario and Quebec -- to offer such a program. About 2,300 births are attended by midwives in B.C. each year.

Carty, trained as a midwife in the U.S., receives about 100 applications annually for the class, which is currently funded for a maximum of 10 students. About 80 per cent of applicants have previous degrees, in both arts and sciences. The graduating class ranges in age from mid-20s to mid-40s and includes single and married women, mothers and a grandmother.

Carty describes the program as traditional curriculum mixed with apprenticeship. In addition to classes, all grads complete substantial practical placements -- or preceptorships -- in locations ranging from Cranbrook to Prince George. In their first nine-week placement in second year, they will attend 8-10 births and will have “caught” (delivered) at least one baby themselves. Graduates must have attended a minimum of 60 births to earn their degree.

A midwife -- the term means “with woman” -- works with a mother throughout the pregnancy. Midwives offer care and education in 45-minute visits, do all the supportive care at home or hospital up to the birth, deliver the baby, and visit mother and baby at home at least 4-5 times.

Informed choice is an important principle of midwifery care and mothers can choose birthing location. B.C.’s 120 registered midwives attend about 70 per cent of deliveries in hospital and 30 per cent in the home.

After graduation, midwives must complete six months in an established practice before setting up their own private practice. Midwifery services are covered under the provincial health plan and midwives can expect to earn, after deducting business expenses, approximately $70,000 per annum, similar pay to advanced-skilled nurses.

“I see midwifery as a perfect opportunity to be a supportive, positive and helpful influence at a momentous time in a family’s life,” says Lindsay Brimblecombe, a 35-year-old grad whose background includes work with a variety of non-profit groups. “I was delighted to be trained in B.C. and to have practicums in such a variety of areas.” Brimblecombe’s placements included Prince George, Campbell River and Vancouver. Carty was impressed with support shown by UBC administrators during the launch of the program, which borrows most of its curriculum from a similar program in Ontario. Special to the UBC program this year are international placements in Zambia, Mexico and Pakistan.

In addition, Carty has also worked with health-care colleagues to create interprofessional opportunities where midwifery, medical and nursing students can learn together.

“We’re finding a real appetite for interprofessional work now and doctors are asking for midwives to work with them -- that wasn’t happening five years ago,” says Carty, adding that numerous smaller hospital closures in the last five years have created a greater need for more maternity care resources in rural and underserved areas.

UBC midwifery grads will soon have the opportunity to provide maternity care right on campus, with the opening of a new family practice clinic planned as part of the University Town development.

For more information on UBC’s midwifery program, visit http://www.midwifery.ubc.ca.

- - -  

Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

to top | UBC.ca » UBC Public Affairs

UBC Public Affairs
310 - 6251 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z1
tel 604.822.3131 | fax 604.822.2684 | e-mail public.affairs@ubc.ca

© Copyright The University of British Columbia, all rights reserved.