Arkansas becomes latest US state to recognise certified nurse-midwives

on 05 July 2021

The state of Arkansas saw lawmakers pass Act 607 which gives certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) full rights to practice midwifery without the supervision of a physician.

Arkansas now joins 27 other US states that have passed legislation providing full practice authority to CNMS.

A CNM and member of the faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Brennan Straka, said: “CNMs want to work within the health care system in collaboration with, not under the supervision of, other health care providers.”

A CNM who works at the Creekside Center for Women in Springdale, Samantha Crouch, added: “I’m thrilled that Arkansas is joining the 27 other states that have already established full practice authority for certified nurse-midwives. This legislation is going to allow CNMs to practice to the full extent of our education, which in turn will give the women of Arkansas more choice in their obstetric and gynaecologic care.”

State Rep. Mary Bentley, R-Perryville, championed the original House Bill 1215, citing that the new law will help reduce the number of women’s health deserts in Arkansas.

“In 37 of our 75 counties, there are absolutely no obstetrician or gynaecological practitioners. Another 10 have only one. We have some women that want to see an OB-GYN not even for maternal care, but just to see a gynaecologist. They have to wait a year to get their first appointment. That’s how poor it is in some parts of our state.

“Just among my constituents, some women have to travel an hour or more to get to an OB-GYN. If you’re a poor working mom[sic], trying to work everyday and find the time to make those prenatal visits, it’s pretty tough. I think that’s a huge factor in our low birth weight of infants…increasing access to care with certified nurse-midwives, I think, will make a huge impact on that.”

According to statistics from 10.3% of births in the US were attended by midwives, and just over 1% are in Arkansas.

Read more about the legislation and the experience of a certified nurse-midwife in the US here.