Midwifery degree delivered
by Carlee-Jade Raybould
Midwifery has been evident throughout history and is still commonly practiced.
However, Mount Royal University is Alberta’s first and only post-secondary institution to introduce a new four-year bachelor of midwifery degree to those entering the healthcare profession.
The program teaches students to offer primary healthcare to women, not only through childbirth but also during pregnancy and throughout the first six weeks of the newborn’s life.
The new degree is already well known and very competitive, according to faculty members.
“There were over 200 applicants within the first month, but there are only 22 spots available,” said Deborah Duran-Snell, an assistant professor in the program.
One of the reasons there is so much excitement about the degree among those in or entering the healthcare world is because it is expected that the demand for midwifes will increase.
There are currently about 52 practicing registered midwifes in Alberta, but with the encouragement from the government and with more access to training those numbers will likely go up so as to meet the high demand.
Gene Zwozdesky, Alberta Minister of Health and Wellness, said the degree program reduces stress on the healthcare system by bringing in educated specialists.
“Training and educating more midwives will mean more expectant mothers will get the quality care they want and need throughout the most important experience in their lives,” he said in an MRU release.
The provincial government added midwifery to the list of maternity options that are covered by the public health system as of April 2009, and $4 million was budgeted for midwifery services in 2009-2010.
Mount Royal’s midwifery degree is built around Alberta women’s opinions as to what would make their experiences more enjoyable, comfortable and safe — both during and after childbirth.
The program is very hands on, and is a mixture of practice and theory. The hope is that neighboring educational institutions will follow Mount Royal’s lead and initialize this program as well, which would open up choices for to-be mothers as well as students.
Even though there aren’t any men enrolled in the course at this point in time, it is not solely for women, and Duran-Snell confirmed that a healthcare background is not required for entry.
She said women often want to become midwives, “because of their experiences with their own childbirth or someone else’s that they know.”