Get My Job: Spotlight on Midwifery

In honor of National Midwifery Week, three faculty members discuss their profession and offer advice to students.

In this Nexus series, Get My Job, we interview alumni and faculty from one of the University’s 160-plus undergraduate and graduate professional programs. In honor of National Midwifery Week, the latest installment features three faculty members from Jefferson’s Midwifery Institute: Dana Perlman, Jan Kriebs and Bonita Shviraga.

headshot of Dana Perlman

Dana Perlman is the Midwifery Institute director.

What’s the best part of your job?
Bonita Shviraga: Engaging with students, listening to their life experiences and how those experiences apply to course content, and then providing additional knowledge and guidance to expand their world view and support their role transition to midwifery advanced practice providers.

As a Midwifery Institute faculty tutor, I believe we “midwife” students into their roles as providers. I enjoy supporting students in their learning through scholarly discourse and feedback and helping students see how the course content has direct application to their midwifery practice.

Dana Perlman: I enjoy coaching students to work through and understand complex physiologic concepts. It’s a privilege to guide students as they bring together their skills, background knowledge and clinical reasoning and to experience their joy and sense of accomplishment.

Seeing our moms take hope for the future was a gift I couldn’t have imagined before I started this work.
— Jan Kriebs

What do you find most rewarding about being a midwife?
Dana Perlman: I had great mentorship from senior midwives when I first got involved in policy and advocacy. I used that mentorship to work with a team of midwives to shepherd prescriptive authority through the regulatory process in Pennsylvania.

Jan Kriebs: If we’re lucky, we find a passion in midwifery. Mine was working with a community of HIV seropositive women for more than 20 years. During that time, we went from HIV being a diagnosis of death to a world in which undetectable means untransmittable and almost all babies are born without infection. Seeing our moms take hope for the future was a gift I couldn’t have imagined before I started this work.

Bonita Shviraga: Empowering women. I find it rewarding to partner with women during pregnancy and childbirth (and to share in the joy of their birth), to provide health education and shared decision making and to instill confidence.

Headshot of Bonita Shviraga

Bonita Shviraga teaches theoretical foundations of midwifery and evaluating research for evidence-based practice at Jefferson.

What’s one piece of advice you give your students?
Dana Perlman: The change from undergraduate to graduate education is as great as the change from high school to college. It’s imperative for students to make adequate focused time in their schedule to take on the joy and responsibility of studying to become a midwife.

Jan Kriebs: I teach professional issues, and we spend a lot of time examining both the history and profession of midwifery in the U.S. It’s not enough to be a strong clinical midwife. Being active professionally is essential to promoting midwifery, and if we don’t promote midwifery, we don’t have a future.

What do you think is important for aspiring midwives to know about midwifery education and graduate school?
Dana Perlman: Beginning midwifery graduate school is a long-anticipated milestone for most of our students. Carve out significant time to dive into your studies. Recruit a hands-on “home team” eager to support you and pick up the slack of day-to-day realities like groceries, laundry and finances. Cultivate resilience and take yourself seriously to become the best clinician you can be.

Bonita Shviraga: Faculty care and will support you in your journey—we don’t know everything, but we can find out together; faculty value and respect students’ life experiences and what you bring to the midwifery educational experience; know and use APA; schedule assignments and “thinking time”; get enough sleep, and take time to care for yourself; keep your goals front and center and never lose sight of them—it all comes together and makes sense in the end; and you can do it!

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