Medical Board approves proposal a bill for 'midwife assistants'

10/26/2014 10:08 PM | Rosanna Davis (Administrator)

October 26, 2014:  Interview with Sarah Davis, CAM Legislative Chair

Rosanna: Sarah, what happened at the medical board meeting this week that is news for California Midwives?

Sarah:  The Medical Board meeting took place on Thursday and Friday, and was attended by myself and several other licensed midwives, and a student midwife. As usual, most of the agenda did not pertain directly to the midwifery program, as the Medical Board licenses physicians and since there are far more physicians than midwives, there are more committees, proposals, enforcement actions, etc relating to physicians than midwives. 

Carrie Sparrevohn, chair of the Midwifery Advisory Council, which operates under the Medical Board, gave her report.  She did not have any action items to present to the full Medical Board at this meeting.

Here is a link to her report, as submitted for materials for the meeting:

Medical Board legislative director Jennifer Simoes presented a proposal regarding midwife assistants. The proposal is a change to the law that would require a bill in the legislature. CAM supports this proposal, and in fact we worked on the language several years back, which was tweaked by Carrie and the Medical Board staff earlier this year.

When we are discussing midwife assistants for purposes of this proposal, we aren't discussing a person who only cleans up, carries equipment, etc.  We are discussing a midwife assistant who performs some basic technical and clinical tasks.

Current law only allows two categories of people to assist an LM:

1. another midwife with her/his own California license (LM or CNM)

2. a student midwife who is enrolled in a Medical Board approved midwifery school and is directly supervised by the LM at all times.

This proposal will allow people who do not fall into either of those categories to become a midwife assistant by obtaining and documenting training. This will be beneficial to many midwives, particularly those in more rural areas, and areas with few midwives.

The Medical Board approved this proposal with no questions or concerns.  The next step is for Medical Board staff to take the proposal to the legislature. So, this definitely isn't happening overnight, but it the wheels are turning.

Rosanna:  Is it possible to see the language for the proposed midwife assistant legislation?

Yes! It is available as a publicly viewable document on the Medical Board's website, in the materials for the August Midwifery Advisory Council meeting.

Rosanna:  There was some discussion on Facebook about this the last couple of days.  What were some of the questions and discussion there? 

We received some great questions and comment on Facebook.  It came to my attention that many people aren't aware that there are currently only the two categories of assistants I mentioned above.  Because they weren't aware of that situation, it seemed like further defining midwife assistants would create barriers to people becoming midwife assistants. Actually, because existing law is restrictive on who can currently assist, a change in law like this proposal will actually increase the pool of people who can be midwife assistants.

Another great question that came up is whether an expensive certification program will be required, as well as registration or licensing for the midwife assistant.  The answer to all these questions is no. The Medical Board would have to further define the training required, but the intention (and the medical assistant model) is to allow the assistant to be trained by an individual licensed midwife or in a course or workshop.

Thanks to our engaged Facebook audience for these questions!

I also want to thank Karen Ehrlich for attending almost every Medical Board meeting over the last few years, and reporting back to CAM. We appreciate it!

Rosanna:  Sarah, thanks for keeping us all informed, up to date and representing the interests of California Licensed Midwives and Families

Other news:  please join us on, a yahoo group for CAM member midwives and students.  Send an email to Rosanna at to join the group.

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