FAQ: BetterBirth University


Are there any prerequisites?

Yes. We require that you:

  1. Apply, be accepted, pay your tuition and reserve your dates.  Following that, you will receive the student handbook which you must read before you arrive, as well as other paperwork which will be sent to you.
  2. Complete an in-person doula/labor support program prior to arrival.  To find doula courses in your area, consider contacting the following organizations:
  • DONA
  • ALACE
  • CAPPA

If you are having trouble completing these pre-requisites, contact us for assistance.

Why would I want to do a doula placement?
Many doulas struggle to complete their certification after their doula training because they cannot find enough clients willing to hire them (or attend their birth for free).  In addition, it is difficult to improve as a doula when you are working with clients who are not themselves doulas and often can't give you the kind of feedback you need.  At BetterBirth you will serve as a doula with midwives who can assist you with techniques and evaluate your effectiveness.  In most cases, doulas in our program complete more than enough births to certify with whatever organization they choose.  If you are also a student midwife, you can be signed as Assistant Under Supervision (AUS) for births you attend as a doula.

Do I have to be enrolled in a particular midwifery program to participate?
No.  We accept students of all midwifery programs, including MEAC accredited schools, PEP, (NARM’s Portfolio  Evaluation Process) and students who are pursuing alternative routes to certification.

How far in advance of my proposed placement should I apply?
As far as possible.  Because we limit the number of students we allow at a time, slots fill up quickly.  We do not allow holding of dates until your application is received and your tuition is paid.

How can I find out if the dates I want are available?
You can find the start and end dates of our placements here.  E-mail Carrie Ann at carrie@betterbirth.com to find out which ones are still available.  Keep in mind that date availability changes often as students complete their applications with us.

What if the dates I want are not available?
You can try for other dates or request to be put on our waiting list.

Do we break for holidays?
We do not hold Workshop Week over major U.S. holidays, but clinical terms are held regardless of holidays.  While we do not generally see clients for routine visits on holidays, babies are born every day of the year.  Because of the tight nature of our schedules, postponements for holidays would negatively affect other terms and result in the loss of important birth experiences for you.  Be sure to check the calendar carefully before applying for a term that occurs over holidays that you must be absent for, and do not apply for that term.

How short can I stay?
Our clinical terms are all either 3 or 4 weeks long, and are pre-determined.  See our Placement Dates page for the placement you are interested in.  The schedule specifies whether each term is of 3- or 4-weeks duration.  We do not permit stays of other lengths.  Doula terms are 1-4 weeks long.  We do not permit students to do more than one clinical term in a row.

Can I do more than one placement?
Yes. You can do as many doula or midwifery placements as are available.  However, placements may not be consecutive.

What will my schedule be like?
During Workshop Week, you will be in class 6 days a week, generally from 8am to 5pm, and sometimes class may extend to the evenings.  It’s very intense.  The rest of the time is free, but we recommend you get to bed early as our workshops are very demanding.  During clinical terms (doula or midwife), you will work very hard.  It is not uncommon to go 24-36 hours without sleep.  This is why we limit student stays to non-consecutive placements.  By the end you will be exhausted and need to rest.

What if I have completed some experience requirements in a local apprenticeship?
Excellent! We feel at least some amount of apprenticeship with a midwife in your home area is very desirable for students.  Most of our students combine a local apprenticeship with short intensives with us. Of course, your local preceptor will sign off experiences that she supervises.  We only sign off experiences we supervise.

How do I get midwifery skills signed off?
Assuming you perform adequately in Workshop Week, there are many skills you can get signed off during the week.  If you are doing a clinical term after Workshop Week, we will attempt to get you to competence and sign you off for as many additional skills as possible.  If there are other skills you want to work on, let us know.

What if I already have all the Assistant Under Supervision experiences I need?
That’s great.  But you'll still be required to work in the Assistant Under Supervision role some of the time you are with us.  You will definitely learn from these experiences, and can sign off a lot of skills while working as an assistant.  Never turn away additional experience, even if it is not strictly “required” by NARM.

Our primary concern is the welfare of our clients, and next comes our responsibility to help you become an excellent midwife.  NARM’s requirements are only a guide in this effort.  If we feel you need more Assistant Under Supervision experience to achieve excellence, we will insist upon you obtaining it prior to allowing you to obtain Primary Under Supervision experiences.

Keep in mind that NARM requires that you obtain certain numbers of Assistant Under Supervision experiences prior to being able to count anything as Primary Under Supervision.  We will work with you and the other midwifery clinical students to maximize clinical opportunities while you are here.

What kind of documentation of experience or certification is available?
BetterBirth University is designed to be an adjunct to other programs (including PEP).  We will sign NARM paperwork and other paperwork required by your school or program.

What language do the clients speak?
The vast majority of our clients are English-speakers, though we have a fair number of clients whose primary language is Spanish, or, rarely, another language, especially Russian. There is no need for you to speak a language other than English during your placement.

What is the philosophy of care at BetterBirth?
We treasure our clients, and their welfare is our number one priority.  We treat all clients with respect and concern for the birth experience they desire.  We practice the midwifery model of care, which means we strive to minimize interventions, to fully inform clients, and to allow them full decision-making authority. We use all tools available to us to provide top-notch care, including herbs, homeopathy, allopathic medications, and many other modalities.  We expect birth to be normal, but we are ever watchful for complications.  When complications occur, we do our utmost to correct them and return to normal birth, or if we cannot return to normal birth, to provide the best care for the situation, whether that means dealing with the complication ourselves or transferring care to a medical provider.

Because we respect and care so much for our clients, we do not do "extra" interventions just because we have students who need to practice those interventions.  We intervene only when necessary and as appropriate.  We believe teaching you when not to intervene is as important as teaching you when to intervene.  If you are unable to practice skills with clients because they are rarely needed, we will utilize other learning and assessment methods to help you get those skills signed off (such as simulations).

What is the philosophy toward students?
We treasure our students.  Our goal is to provide you the most supportive and effective learning environment possible so that you can become a highly-skilled midwife.  We focus on each student, tailoring our instruction and assessments to exactly what you need.  If you need more assistance with a particular skill, our supervising midwives will be advised and we will work with you to improve in that area. We do not engage in favoritism, embarrassment, harsh criticism, or any other form of negative feedback with our students.  Our goal is to help you achieve excellence in every way we can.

What about housing?
Local students are expected to live in their usual residence.  Students who come from long distances can request free accommodations near our Orem clinical site, which includes kitchen facilities.  Our accommodations are limited, and are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.  After that, students must find housing elsewhere (we are happy to help with that).  We discourage you from staying with local families in trade for childcare or other such arrangements because we will expect you to be fully focused on your clinical experience and available at all times for births.  We also require that you stay within 45 minutes of our clinical sites (using Draper, Utah as the center point) so you can arrive in a reasonable time for births.  There is no tuition discount for arranging your own housing.

Can I bring my family with me?
Yes, you can, but keep in mind that we expect you to be available at all times for births and clinic days.  If you bring children you must bring at least one other adult to care for them while you are working with us. Family members (or non-family members) are not permitted to stay with you in our facility, so you will need to make other housing arrangements for them.  You may stay with them there as long as you are within 45 minutes of the birth centers.  You may want to consider staying at Silver Mountain Suites in Provo.  Be sure to check with them about lower rates for longer stays that may not be listed on their website.

Can I make my own transportation arrangements?
In fact you must make your own transportation arrangements.  If you are only here for Workshop Week (not for a clinical or doula placement), you will only need transportation to and from the airport if you are staying with us.  Grocery stores are within walking distance.  If you are not staying with us, you will need your own transportation to and from the workshop/clinical sites.  If you are here for a clinical or doula placement, we require that you have immediate access to a vehicle while in our program.  If you will be driving to us from your home area (rather than flying), you will most likely want to use your own car while you are here.  If you are flying, you will most likely want to rent a car.  It is easiest to rent a car for pickup at the airport as we do not shuttle students.  You are responsible for obtaining another vehicle if the one you are using breaks down.

Is childcare available?
No.  While you are here, we expect you to be fully focused on your clinical experience.  We do not provide time for sight-seeing or family responsibilities.  We do not permit students’ children at our clinical facility.

Are there employment opportunities available?
During your stay as a student, we expect you to devote full time to learning.  It is neither practical nor advisable to attempt employment during your placement.  Although we do occasionally offer positions to those exceptional students who receive their CPM and qualify for licensure in Utah, you should not expect an offer of employment from us.

Questions? We have answers. 

"Where to start?  You all mean the world to me.  I am beyond thankful for all you have done to see me through to the end of this journey.  I have so many funny, sad, awesome, brutal, sweet, emotional and did I mention Awesome memories of my times with you that I will cherish for a lifetime.  I look forward to hearing where each of your paths lead you - I know they will each be amazing and valuable.  I hope to do right by the investment you all have put into me and my training by making this world a better place - Doctors without borders here I come!  Love, love, love you all! "

- S. February 2015