To set the standard for educating excellent entry-level and continuing practitioners of the midwifery arts and sciences within the biodynamic model, integrating a solid framework of traditional knowledge and practices with a variety of therapeutic approaches.
Birthingway was a spring-time baby, born in March 1993. We began as a six-month structured study group held in the home of our founder, Holly Scholles. Soon after, this group became the Birthingway Midwifery School, a private business offering a two-year program of classroom and independent study. Holly taught all of the courses with the occasional help of guest speakers.
In 1996, Birthingway made the decision to seek accreditation by the Midwifery Education Accreditation Council (MEAC). In order to meet MEAC accreditation requirements, the program expanded to three years and increased the clinical requirements for graduation. A year later, Holly turned control of Birthingway over to a Board of Directors and we became the Birthingway Midwifery Center, a non-profit, charitable corporation.
A Growing Community
During the fall of 1998, Birthingway moved out of Holly’s home into a large house in North Portland. By this time, a growing number of teachers and preceptors were becoming a part of the Birthingway community. We were only in this new location for a short time, however, because in August 1999, Birthingway moved again, this time to our current home in Southeast Portland.
In spring 2000, the State of Oregon gave Birthingway a choice: become approved as a private career school or offer, as a college, a Bachelor Degree. After much community discussion, Birthingway applied to the Oregon Office of Degree Authorization (ODA) for approval to confer the Bachelor of Science in Midwifery degree. In March 2001, we were first granted approval and officially became Birthingway College of Midwifery.
During fall 2010, Birthingway received approval from MEAC and ODA to offer our second degree program: the Associate of Science in Lactation Consultation. We closed this program in 2019 following a long-term teach out process which allowed us to graduate all existing students.
In addition to our degree programs, Birthingway offered certification programs for Labor and Postpartum Doulas. We began winding these programs down in 2020, though we continue to recertify doulas who previously certified through Birthingway. Our Midwifery program is now our exclusive focus.
COVID and Current Transitions
The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the emergence and growth of distance and hybrid education models, has prompted us to change the way we do things. Birthingway and the model of education we pursue was founded upon the idea that relationships should be at the core of student learning. This is particularly true for the education of midwives, for whom empathy, compassion, and communication are foundational skills. For us, this meant prioritizing an in-person education model with lots of time spent in the classroom and a cohort model in which meal sharing and time together is central.
Especially now that the COVID pandemic has made teaching and administering our programs from a distance the safest and most responsible option, we are looking into the feasibility of using the technology available to us today to launch a new iteration of our midwifery program, offering flexibility and adaptability while prioritizing relationship and the acquisition of hands-on skills. This low residency, competency based model would utilize more virtual assessment and teaching, while requiring some in-person learning and skills acquisition.
If you’re interested in staying informed about new developments with this project, please let us know by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.