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Becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife


Jori Belkin '11
Jori Belkin '11

At Hamilton, I took full advantage of the vast number of majors and ability to create a new major. I graduated from Hamilton with a degree in Asian Studies, concentrating on India. I specialized in Bollywood film, specifically studying female roles in the genre. I also took advantage of the semester abroad programs, studying in India and in NYC my final semester of college. I utilized the NYC program as a way to secure an internship that would hopefully lead to post graduation employment. My plan worked and I graduated from Hamilton with a job in international film marketing and distribution at a local NYC company. Yet as I started to work in film, I realized that what I really loved about studying women in Bollywood film was not studying film, but working with women on women's issues. As I researched potential careers, I found that being a nurse in a women's health specialty would allow me to work with women. Pursing nursing was a career track that would not take as much time to complete as going to medical school, especially because I had not taken any math or science at Hamilton. I chose the accelerated nursing program at New York University's Rory Meyers College of Nursing to obtain a bachelor’s degree in nursing, a BSN.

After completing two semesters of prerequisite math and science undergraduate courses, I commenced the very intense 15-month accelerated program. The program consisted of multiple lectures on pathophysiology, anatomy, health across the lifespan, and nursing science. I also had rotations through various nursing clinical sites, ranging from nursing homes to intensive medical floors in the hospital. During the program, my labor and delivery clinical rotations solidified my love of women's health.

While learning about various nursing roles, I also learned about a particular type of advanced practice nurse, a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). A CNM undergoes similar training to a nurse practitioner (NP), a master’s-level nursing education. In New York, a CNM has independent practice and prescriptive abilities; she can start her own practice without need of a physician partnership. In addition to delivering babies, a CNM provides prenatal care, gynecologic care, family planning, and routine medical care for women from menarche to past menopause.

I knew that I wanted to pursue an advanced nursing degree once I became a registered nurse (RN) and the CNM’s wide range of women-focused practice possibilities seemed to be the perfect path. NYU accepted me into the CNM program as I completed my BSN. The NYU CNM program required one year of nursing experience by the time of the master’s degree completion. I searched for a job as a labor and delivery nurse and found work at a local Manhattan hospital. 

After six months into my labor and delivery position, I started taking night classes for my master’s at NYU. My job provided tuition reimbursement as long as I worked full time. As a new nurse, I worked the night shift. As my coursework continued to intensify, I found that working at night and taking two or more master’s courses was becoming difficult. I decided to transition to a nursing position in a family planning clinic closer to school that had daytime hours and flexible scheduling.

My final four semesters of school consisted of coursework and clinical rotations. The clinical rotations specialized in primary care, gynecology, prenatal care, postpartum care, and labor management. In my final semester, I worked a full 40 hours a week in the hospital. I was placed in clinical sites all over NYC, ranging from a birth center in Brooklyn to public hospitals in the Bronx.

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I ended up truly enjoying my work at a particular hospital in the Bronx, Jacobi Medical Center. Jacobi has one of the largest midwifery practices in New York, with over 20 midwives. Unique to Jacobi, medical residents do not train on the labor and delivery floor.  In partnership with attending physicians, Jacobi midwives care for high-risk patients that other midwives frequently do not have the opportunity to care for at other facilities. I manage patients that have significant medical illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

After my almost four years of slowly pursuing my master’s in midwifery, I graduated from NYU, passed my midwifery certification board, received my NY license, and was offered a full-time midwifery position at Jacobi.

My journey from an undergraduate at Hamilton, taking no science or math courses and studying Bollywood, to becoming a CNM was long and sometimes arduous, but it has been quite amazing. I not only get to deliver babies, but I also provide body-positive care to the hundreds of women I work with at Jacobi Medical Center. I feel truly honored to be a midwife. I still have more education to pursue, either a doctorate or a PhD in nursing. I have carried my writing and critical thinking skills from Hamilton to my everyday job as well as my desire to continue learning. I strongly encourage you as Hamilton students to grow and seek education beyond Hamilton, because you have no idea where your career will lead.

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