WRITER: MEGHAN NEARY
CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 384-4638
Release: April 27, 2001
MOMS program helps UI medical students learn from expectant mothers' point
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A program at the University of Iowa College of Medicine
is helping first-year medical students develop their bedside manner and understand
what it is like to be a prenatal patient. Maternity Observation for Medical
Students (MOMS) matches expectant mothers with medical students to give the
mothers a sense of support and help students develop patient relationship
The MOMS program originally was designed by Sonja Erickson, former UI associate
professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and the Leopold Society, an obstetrics
and gynecology interest group. The program allows first-year medical students
to form their first relationship with a patient, although they are not given
hands-on medical responsibility. Their participation is strictly as observers,
said Wendy Hansen, M.D., UI professor (clinical) of obstetrics and gynecology
and faculty advisor for MOMS.
"Even though the students might start MOMS out of curiosity, they usually
become a great comfort to the family," Hansen said. "It's so much
fun to watch them grow as they begin to understand the prenatal process."
The students are matched with a pregnant woman and commit to being a part
of the pregnancy, including attending all prenatal appointments and being
available at the time of delivery. The program is entirely a volunteer effort
for both mothers and students, and no credit is given on the student's academic
"Students who make this commitment must be very dedicated because the
program involves a lot of their time, and mothers often deliver during the
summer before the student's second year in medical school," Hansen said.
Erin Evers, a first-year UI medical student, currently is enrolled in the
program. Evers feels MOMS is a valuable program because it helps students
determine their level of interest in obstetrics early on in their academic
career. Evers wonders what her comfort level would be during deliveries.
"Because I have the opportunity to view a birth, I will know early
on if obstetrics is a field I might like to pursue," she said.
Evers is paired with a second-time mother who is more than 32 weeks into
her pregnancy. Evers has attended one appointment with her patient and learned
about what obstetricians look for during prenatal appointments. Her favorite
part of the program is talking about patient charts and patient history with
"Dr. Hansen is an excellent instructor who shares her own personal
experiences as a physician and a patient," Evers said.
Sarah Brown, a second-year UI medical student from Coralville, participated
in the MOMS program last year. For Brown, as for many participants, it was
the first time she was allowed to interact with a patient. She was paired
with a couple who eventually delivered their first child last July. Brown
attended all the couple's prenatal visits and was present during the birth.
"It was a great opportunity to see what goes on from both the patient's
and physician's point of view," Brown said. "I enjoyed MOMS so much,
I would have done it even if it took more of my time."
The UI College of Nursing offers a similar experience to its nursing students
as a part of their pediatric and clinical experience. While nursing students
are not expected to make as large a time commitment, they also learn about
the prenatal and postpartum experience.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient
care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.