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B.C. expands training spots for midwifery amid 'high burnout' rate


The province of B.C. is adding 20 new training positions to the University of British Columbia's midwifery program, a 70-per-cent increase the government intends to help patients in underserved areas in rural and remote communities. 

Some of those students will train in Vancouver, others in Victoria, and still others for the first time at a new multi-disciplinary campus UBC has established in Surrey

Selina Robinson, the minister of post-secondary education, made the announcement at UBC’s main campus, pledging $1.7 million per year to expand access to the program, which now graduates 28 midwives each year. The program started 20 years ago and has graduated 200 midwives in that time.

Standing with the ministers of advanced education and health, the Midwives Association of BC applauded the investment, but also warned there are high rates of burnout in the profession and more must be done to better pay and otherwise support them so that they stay in the field.

“It’s very hard for midwives to be the one and all for their pregnant people, to be on call 24/7/365 without sufficient supports,” said Dr. Zoe Hodgson, clinical director of the Midwives’ Association of BC and an instructor at UBC. 

She described their role as complementing and supporting other health care for expectant parents before and after birth, up to six weeks post-partum, in a job that’s very rewarding personally and professionally.

“It’s more than a career, it’s all-encompassing … Every midwife I know is very passionate,” said Hodgson, but she emphasized the workload and stress, especially in the wake of the pandemic.

“Because of that, the rates of burnout in our profession are very high. We need to work with government to make the profession more sustainable.” 

Currently, midwives deliver 27 per cent of babies in the province, according to the Health Ministry, which expects that share to grow, particularly in rural and remote areas of the province. Midwives' services are free under the Medical Services Plan

When asked for specifics as to how the province planned to make better use of midwives in areas of the province that have little or no maternal health care, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the government has already expanded their role and will continue to do so.

“I see that as a central role in all our health human resources actions, to ensure people have the care in the community the live in,” he said. Top Stories

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