Nurse Midwife Profile – Melissa Troncale, CNM, MSN
Bachelor’s degree in biology from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2007
Master’s degree in nursing with a focus on nurse-midwifery from Vanderbilt University, 2011
Melissa Troncale truly feels that midwifery is her calling. In her first year of midwifery, the Certified Nurse Midwife has delivered more than 100 babies. The mother to a 9 month old, she delivered her own daughter at MomDoc Midwives, the Gilbert, Ariz.-based OB-GYN practice where she works. When we spoke, she had recently completed her first assist training, a surgical training for caesarian births.
Question: I understand you became interested in midwifery while an undergrad at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
Troncale: "In my women studies minor we talked a lot about women’s health and women’s role in their healthcare. I think that the movement now is women are empowered to make their own healthcare decisions. And I think midwives do a really wonderful job of respecting women and their bodies and what they want for their healthcare. I think that midwifery especially promotes women as active participants in their own healthcare, and then they are more satisfied with their care because they are involved in a decision and feel informed. That’s what we hope to give our patients."
Question: What have you enjoyed about the field now that you’ve studied it and are practicing?
Troncale: "I’ve really enjoyed guiding women through labor and birth. I think labor is a really difficult journey, and guiding women through that is a wonderful, rewarding experience for me."
Question: What have you needed to practice as a Certified Nurse Midwife?
Troncale: "There are different types of midwives. To be a CNM, you need to have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, as far as degrees go. You need to have your RN and you also need to have your Certified Nurse-Midwife. That’s a board certification done through the American Midwifery Certification Board. Other than that, it’s pretty flexible. Like me, I got my bachelor’s in biology, not necessarily nursing. You can come into it after having earned your bachelor’s in whatever. Not everyone knows what they want to do when they get done with their bachelor’s."
Question: Is that why you decided to become a CNM?
Troncale: "That’s why I chose that route. I enjoyed how the CNM was a very structured program, and a lot of universities offer it."
Question: What do you need to do to maintain your credentials?
Troncale: "With our CNM certification, we have to be recertified every five years. Within those five years, you have to do continuing education units. Those are pretty much open to conferences and workshops, which cover all types of gynecology issues like menopause, irregular menses, high-risk cases, things like that. First-assist training could also be considered part of my continuing education. Another part of continuing education is we have to do modules in conjunction with those continuing education credits. Those have to be done every five years as well and address current practices and evidence-based practices. They keep you up-to-date with current practices."
Question: What are you current goals as a CNM?
Troncale: "I’ve only been a midwife for a year, so I’m still gaining experience in the field. I think a lot of people say that the first year is a lot of learning, and it has been. I’m looking forward to my first five years of practice, gaining experience, and providing really good care to my patients. After that, I might go on to a Ph.D. and do more research in women’s health."
Question: Do you see more women turning to midwifery for their labor?
Troncale: "There’s a trend for patients choosing a more low-intervention, natural kind of approach. Midwifery fulfills that need. You build a relationship more with a midwife for sure. You don’t want to just know about your vital signs. We ask how you are doing, how are your children at home, how are you preparing for the birth. It’s an important time in life, a huge transition, and you want to have a provider that wants to talk to you not just about the basics, but really wants to see how you’re both coping. I think sometimes you get rushed through office visits, but with a midwife, you sit down, have a conversation — the lines of communication are open."
Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career and want to be a nurse midwife?
Troncale: "It’s important to find a program that will give you what you need in your education. For me, I knew I wanted to be a midwife who’s up-to-date in research and has evidence-based knowledge, so for me, I needed to find a university that valued research. You have to take the time to find one that’s right for you.
"There’s also a lot of work upfront before you get into clinicals, so you have to stick with it and do the work in the classroom so you can leave that classroom really well prepared to deal with patients. It’s hard ? you get into that midwifery curriculum and you want to start touching babies right away, but you need to put time in the classroom first."
Question: Did you feel that way?
Troncale: "I was so anxious to catch my first baby. You have your eye on the prize, and you have to do the work. It’s been a wonderful career, I know I’m going to be happy doing it the rest of my life. As corny as it sounds, I think it was a calling for me to be a midwife. It’s hard to do a job like this unless you really want to. Getting up at 3 o’clock in the morning to run to the hospital and catch a baby — you have to want to do that. You want someone who wants to be there, and midwives want to be there. That’s our favorite part of the job."