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Childbirth, Midwifery, Nurse-midwifery, Phenomenology



  1. Doherty, Mary Ellen PhD, RN, CNM


Purpose: To describe the lived experience of nurse-midwives.


Design and Methods: A qualitative study using a phenomenological approach. Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 10 seasoned nurse-midwives. Two data-generating questions guided the study: "How would you describe the circumstances involving your decision to become a nurse-midwife?" and "What is the experience of being a nurse-midwife like for you?" Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data saturation was achieved, and analysis procedures were adapted from Colaizzi.


Results: Seven themes emerged from the data: (1) The path to midwifery: Decisions and plans; (2) Midwifery education: Rigor and enlightenment; (3) Being "with woman": Positive presence and therapeutic alliance; (4) Midwifery as a vocation: A call to serve; (5) A juggling act: Balancing career and family life; (6) Professional struggles: Stress and frustration; and (7) Professional triumphs: Joys and satisfactions.


Clinical Implications: Insight into the experience of nurse-midwives provides a framework for additional research in this arena. Listening to the voices of midwives provides vital information about women's healthcare providers who do so much to add to the comprehensive care of women.