August 9, 2021, Memphis, TN – Jennifer Pepper, executive director of CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, announced today the nonprofit is launching a fellowship program for new midwife graduates. The Center of Excellence Nurse Midwifery Fellowship Program at CHOICES will introduce recently graduated nurse midwives to CHOICES’ values and full-spectrum reproductive and sexual health model. The year-long training program will be focused on Black midwives and will be closely aligned with reproductive and social justice principles. CHOICES’ fellows will leave the program fully equipped to provide healthcare in a more inclusive, patient-centered way and prepared to take action to dismantle systems of reproductive oppression and injustices in their own community and beyond.
CHOICES’ fellows will have the unique opportunity to attend various types of births in three settings (hospital, home, and birth center) alongside CHOICES’ Black-led midwifery birthing team. They will also work with other health care professionals such as doulas and other community birth workers, gynecologists, obstetricians, and urologists. Qualified candidates include people who identify as Black or African American, have at least a master’s degree in nursing, completed a CNM program no more than one year ago, and have current CNM licensure or are eligible for licensure in Tennessee.
“CHOICES has been on the forefront of innovation in the reproductive and sexual health care field for almost 50 years now, and I believe our new Center of Excellence Nurse Midwifery Fellowship Program is the latest example of that. We are excited to share CHOICES’ values and to help create a workforce of Black midwives who are ready to care for people in a holistic and patient-centered way,” says Jennifer Pepper, executive director at CHOICES.
Dr. Nikia Grayson, CHOICES’ director of clinical services, says of the program, “Black women are dying of pregnancy-related causes at least four times as often as white women. We must do our part to end racial disparities in maternal and infant health, and this fellowship is part of the solution. Black women deserve high quality, culturally-competent providers, and we are truly honored at CHOICES to help train the next generation of midwives to care for their communities.”
The Center of Excellence Nurse Midwifery Fellowship Program is funded by generous support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences Global Action in Nursing (GAIN) project, and Groundswell Fund’s Birth Justice Fund.
About CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health
CHOICES is an independent, nonprofit reproductive health clinic dedicated to empowering individuals in the Mid-South to make informed choices for and about their reproductive health. Offering services such as abortion care, hormone management for transgender patients, HIV testing and prevention, gynecological wellness care, no-cost birth control, and midwife-led prenatal care and births, CHOICES’ model of comprehensive, patient-centered care is making waves in the reproductive and sexual health community. With the opening of their new health and birth center in 2020, which includes the first licensed birth center in Memphis, CHOICES became the only nonprofit health care provider in the country to offer both birth services and abortion care under one roof.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal innovator and entrepreneur Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special attention is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success.
About the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences Global Action in Nursing (GAIN) Project
In many places around the world, women and babies are dying unnecessarily from complications during childbirth because health care providers lack training and dedicated mentorship opportunities in maternal and reproductive health care. The GAIN project aims to reduce preventable maternal and infant death during childbirth by providing clinical and leadership training to nurses and midwives in high-risk communities.
About the Groundswell Fund’s Birth Justice Fund
The Birth Justice Fund works to eliminate disparities in pregnancy and birth outcomes experienced by women of color, low-income women, young women and transgender people. We accomplish this by increasing access to empowering and culturally relevant birthing options, led by midwives, doulas and other birth workers of color, and changes in policy and practice aimed at improving birth outcomes.