(WLAX/WEUX) La Crosse, Wis – Half of U.S. counties lack a single OB-GYN. That’s according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
First News at Nine’s, Hayley Spitler, has more on how Mayo Clinic in La Crosse is using certified nurse midwives to help with the shortage.
Fewer doctors are pursuing careers in obstetrics according to Mayo Clinic Health Systems. They estimate there will be a shortage of 6,000 – 8,000 OB-GYN’s this year. As a result, Mayo Clinic in La Crosse has created a collaborative care model with certified nurse midwives.
“We will stay in house all the time, take care of triaging, all of the patients,” said certified nurse midwife, Theresa Hagen. “Seeing all of the low-risk to moderately high-risk patients, delivering them, rounding on them, anything we could do to help our OB colleagues out.”
There are seven midwifes a part of the program with at least one always at the hospital. Having a midwife on-hand can help with quick deliveries and emergency situations that can follow after a birth. There are differences between a certified nurse-midwife and a doctor.
“We can’t do C-sections,” said Hagen. “We don’t do some high-risk procedures like forceps or vacuum, but we can give pain medication; we can suture, so there are quite a few things we can do that are similar to the doctors.”
Mayo says that all of the midwives that partake in the care model are all registered nurses and that they’ve received plenty of training and education.
“They all are RN’s who have gone on to their master’s degree. So, they’ve gone on and they actually have two more years of experience and extensive training just in OB and gynecology,” said Hagen.
Since its inception in 2014, the model has been successful resulting in shorter hospital stays for patients and less admissions to the ICU.
“Increase in our vaginal births after cesarean, and we have decreased our c-section rates,” said Frank.
Midwives say there can be a lot of misconceptions when it comes to their position.
“Patients will say to me, ‘You don’t want me to have an epidural,’ or ‘You don’t like pain medication,’ which isn’t true at all,” said Frank. “In our practice here, all seven midwives firmly believe that your birth plan and your birth is about you.”
Mayo Clinic believes that other hospitals would be successful in adopting this model as well.