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NPR: "Hospitals Dropping Nurse-Midwife Programs"

January 17, 2004 -- Today NPR's Weekend Edition ran a generally good piece by Janet Heimlich reporting that hospitals in some places have been ending certified nurse-midwife programs at the behest of physicians, who (depending on whom you believe) are either concerned about supervising and incurring liability for the work of the nurse-midwives, or about stifling competition and billing for their residents to deliver the babies.

The story does a fairly good job of balancing the different views about the benefits of nurse-midwife programs. It quotes people on both sides of the debate--including physicians on both sides--and features audio from a mother giving birth using a nurse-midwife. The piece begins by citing one recent study finding that birth outcomes in certified nurse-midwife deliveries are as good as those in physician deliveries. The story focuses on the valuable emotional support nurse-midwives can provide at delivery, though it could have given a better sense of the advanced technical training of certified nurse-midwives, who generally have masters degrees. The piece does not quite convey the practical autonomy of certified nurse-midwives. Some listeners might not realize that physicians play no significant role in the typical nurse-midwife-managed pregnancy and delivery.

Listen to Janet Heimlich's Hospitals Dropping Nurse-Midwife Programs on NPR.

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