Preceptor/Student Relationships & Policies

Being a NARM Registered Preceptor is a privilege. Preceptors have a responsibility to familiarize themselves with the information regarding Preceptor/Student Relationships including:

so they can be well-informed as to the commitment they are making when they decide to train students.

In validating the apprenticeship as a valuable form of education and training for midwifery, NARM appreciates the many variations in the preceptor/student relationship. In upholding the professional demeanor of midwifery, it is important that each party in the relationship strive to maintain a sense of cooperation and respect for one another. While some preceptor/student relationships develop into a professional partnership, others are brief and specifically limited to a defined role for each participant.

Effective January 1, 2017, all NARM preceptors must be registered before supervising any clinicals documented on a student’s NARM Application. Skills/clinicals signed off after that date by a preceptor who is not registered with NARM will be invalid.

Apprenticeship is the foundation of midwifery training for Certified Professional Midwives. Through mentoring student midwives, NARM Registered Preceptors provide learning experiences where students can gain confidence and skill as they work towards meeting their requirements for certification. Apprenticeship is a relationship, and in all healthy relationships, clear communication is essential.

Effective June 1, 2021, with initial preceptor registration or preceptor renewal, NARM requires that all Registered Preceptors develop a written work agreement that clearly defines expectations for the student, as well as for the Preceptor. NARM has found the most common difficulty in the preceptor/student relationship is typically poor communication about the responsibilities each person has over the course of the apprenticeship. A clearly written agreement is an indispensable resource to both the student and the preceptor if a dispute occurs.

NARM does not directly supervise the preceptor/student relationship. The NARM Preceptor/Student Accountability process is intended to address issues related to integrity, conduct, and the upholding of written and signed preceptor/student work agreements. NARM strongly suggests the student and preceptor adhere to these agreements, including regular review of the student’s progress, and address any issues in a timely fashion. If the student or preceptor identify deficiencies but continue to work under conditions contradicting the signed work agreement, NARM reserves the right not to address a related complaint through the accountability process.

To help NARM candidates achieve exceptional training and a satisfactory relationship from their apprenticeship, NARM makes the following statements:

  1. All preceptors for NARM PEP applicants must be currently registered with NARM as a Registered Preceptor. Preceptor registration requires filling out and submitting the NARM Preceptor Registration Form 700. Forms may be found on the Preceptor Registration page. In order to qualify as a NARM Registered Preceptor, the midwife must document their credential as a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Midwife (CM); or they must be a licensed practitioner legally recognized by a state/jurisdiction to provide maternity care. A preceptor must have an additional three years of experience after credentialing or fifty primary births beyond entry-level CPM requirements. Additionally, they must also have ten continuity of care births beyond entry-level CPM requirements. A preceptor must have attended a minimum of ten out-of-hospital births in the last three years. Current preceptor registration with NARM is required for clinicals to be valid. It is the student’s responsibility to verify the preceptor’s registration status by asking their preceptor or contacting NARM.
  2. The clinical components of apprenticeship should include didactic and clinical experience, and the clinical component must be at least two years in duration. The average apprenticeship which includes didactic and clinical training typically lasts three to five years. In the PEP Application, the dates from the earliest clinical documented in Phase 1 or 2 until the last clinical documented in Phase 3 must span at least two years. Additional births may also be reflected on Form 102 Birth Experience Background.
  3. It is acceptable, even preferable, for the student to study under more than one Registered Preceptor. In the event that more than one preceptor is responsible for the training, each preceptor will sign off on those births and skills which were adequately performed under the supervision of that preceptor. Each preceptor who signs for any clinicals on Forms 111 or 112 must fill out and sign the Verification of Birth Experience Form. All numbers signed for must be equal to or greater than the numbers signed for on Forms 111a-d and 112a-e. The student should make multiple copies of all blank forms so each preceptor will have a copy to fill out and sign. These forms should be filled out and signed by the preceptor, not the applicant.
  4. The preceptor and student should have a clear understanding of the responsibilities of each person to the other, including the time expected to be spent in one-on-one training, classroom or small group study, self-study, clinical observation, opportunities for demonstration of skills, time on call, and financial obligations. NARM requires all Registered Preceptors develop a written work agreement that clearly defines expectations for the student, as well as for the Preceptor.

    There are many variations in preceptor/student relationships, however NARM has compiled a suggested list of topics that should be documented in the student’s work agreement to avoid misunderstandings. All preceptor/student work agreements are required to address the following five essential elements. This template is provided but the specific terms of each agreement should be customized to reflect the circumstances of the practice.

    1.  Job description for the student and the preceptor
    2.  Plan for regular reviews and completion of the student’s NARM paperwork
    3.  Financial compensation plan for the student and preceptor
    4.  Criteria required by the preceptor to sign off on NARM paperwork
    5.  Information regarding NARM’s Preceptor/Student Accountability Committee process that will be utilized for complaint resolution if the student and preceptor have a conflict they cannot resolve themselves
  5. The student, if at all possible, should have the NARM application at the beginning of the apprenticeship and should have all relevant documentation signed at the time of the experience rather than waiting until the completion of the apprenticeship.
  6. Preceptors are expected to sign the application documentation for the student at the time the skill is performed competently. Determination of “adequate performance” of the skill is at the discretion of the preceptor, and multiple demonstrations of each skill may be necessary. Documentation of attendance and performance at births, prenatals, postpartums, etc., should be signed only if the preceptor agrees that expectations have been met. Any misunderstanding regarding expectations for satisfactory completion of experience or skills should be discussed and resolved as soon as possible, however the preceptor makes the final determination.
  7. The preceptor is expected to provide adequate opportunities for the student to observe clinical skills, to discuss clinical situations away from the clients, to practice clinical skills, and to perform the clinical skills in the capacity of a primary midwife, all while under the direct supervision of the preceptor. This means that the preceptor must be physically present when the student performs the midwife skills. The preceptor holds the final responsibility for the safety of the client or baby and should become involved, whenever warranted, in the spirit of positive education and role modeling. Preceptors who sign clinicals but refuse to complete the Final Verification Form without a justifiable reason, risk having their preceptor status revoked. If there is a concern, the clinical skill should not be signed off in the first place.
  8. Preceptors who sign off on experiences they did not witness risk losing their ability to sign as a preceptor in the future and also risk losing their NARM Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential.
  9. NARM’s definition of the Initial Prenatal Exam includes covering an intake interview, history (medical, gynecological, family) and a physical exam. These exams do not have to occur all on the first visit to the midwife, but the student should perform at least 20 of these exams on one or more early prenatal visits.
  10. Prenatal Exams, Newborn Exams, and Postpartum Exams as Assistant Under Supervision (forms 111b-d) must be completed before the same category of clinicals may be verified as Primary Under Supervision (Forms 112 b-e). However, Prenatals, Newborn Exams, and Postpartum Exams as a Primary Under Supervision may begin before the Primary Under Supervision births occur.
  11. Births as Assistant Under Supervision (Form 111) are births where the student is being taught to perform the skills of a midwife. Just observing a birth is not considered Assistant Under Supervision. Charting or other skills, providing labor and birth support, and participating in management discussions may all be done as an assistant in increasing degrees of responsibility. The student should perform some skills at every birth listed on Form 111a and must be present throughout labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period. The student must complete 18 of the Assistant Under Supervision births before functioning as Primary Under Supervision at births.
  12. Births as a Primary Midwife Under Supervision (Form 112) means that the student demonstrates the ability to perform all aspects of midwifery care to the satisfaction of the preceptor who is physically present and supervising the student’s performance of skills and decision making.
  13. Catching the baby is a skill that should be taught and performed during the Assistant Under Supervision phase. The Primary Under Supervision births require that the student be responsible but under supervision for all skills needed for labor support and monitoring of mother and baby, risk assessment, the delivery of the infant, newborn exam, and the immediate postpartum assessment of mother and baby. If the mother or father is “catching” the baby, the Primary Under Supervision is responsible for all elements of the delivery. If the preceptor catches the baby, then that birth qualifies as Assistant Under Supervision for the student.
  14. The preceptor holds final responsibility for all prenatal care, the birth, and postpartum care done by the student. This applies to all phases including Phase 4 that only requires births.
  15. Attendance at a birth where either the student or preceptor is also the client will not be accepted for verification of the required clinicals.