Erminia Martinez, WHNP, CNM, is a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) and certified nurse-midwife (CNM) at the University of Utah College of Nursing (CON) BirthCare HealthCare practice at University of Utah Hospital.
Although she was born and raised in Utah County, Martinez and her family stick to their Oaxaca, Mexico roots. She speaks the indigenous language of Mixteco (Mixtec) as well as Spanish, allowing her to provide patients with care in their native language. In her spare time, Martinez enjoys all of the backpacking, trail running, mountain biking, and camping that Utah and the mountain west have to offer. She also loves spending time with family and friends.
Martinez’s path to nursing
Martinez always knew that she wanted to work closely with people—especially women and babies.
“I knew at a young age that I was particularly interested in women’s health and birth. This interest was first instilled in me when my mother told me about her home deliveries in Mexico with my siblings. I instantly became curious about birth, and wanted to learn more about the birthing process,” says Martinez. “In the small village she lived in, they did not have hospitals nearby and instead had traditional midwives attend the births. I became fascinated by her stories and knew this was a field I wanted to work in.”
Martinez’s interest in midwifery grew as she completed her baccalaureate program at the CON and soon after became a labor and delivery nurse. Her career as a labor and delivery nurse confirmed her passion for women’s health, propelling her to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice in Midwifery and Women’s Health degree. Ever since she completed her graduate program, Martinez has worked as a CNM and WHNP at BirthCare HealthCare.
The chance to support and empower women throughout their lives is why Martinez loves what she does.
“The most rewarding experience as a midwife is supporting women through pregnancy, labor, and birth. It’s the privilege of being part of a family’s journey in welcoming their baby into the world,” relays Martinez, “I love that as a midwife, I can empower women during their most vulnerable moments by telling women they are unbelievably strong, doing amazing, and what their body is doing is remarkable.”
A day in the life of a CNM and WHNP
Martinez’s day varies based on her patent’s needs. She works with a large variety of patients across the lifespan—from adolescence to older age.
“As a CNM and WHNP, my work days focus on female sexual and reproductive health, pregnancy, and delivery. My role is to deliver primary health care to women from adolescence through childbearing to advanced age. This includes well-woman exams (annuals), pap smears, prenatal and intrapartum management, postpartum care, family planning, fertility, sexually transmitted disease, birth control, and gynecological concerns,” explains Martinez.
How to become a CNM and/or a WHNP
Want to become a CNM or WHNP? Martinez says the first step is discovering your passion for women’s health and nursing. After becoming a registered nurse, apply to a nurse-midwifery program, a WHNP program, or a dual program such as the CON’s dual women’s health/nurse-midwifery Doctor of Nursing Practice program. After completing the program, you will need to pass a board certification exam and apply for state licensure.
Regardless of the level of degree you are earning, talk to your academic advisor and professors early on about your passion for women’s health and/or midwifery. They will set you on the right path by mentoring you, assigning relevant clinical placements, and tailoring your capstone to your interests.
Erminia’s advice for students is simple but important: find a good support system.
“Have a good support system that can help cheer you on for your career goals,” says Martinez. “In times when school becomes overwhelming, a support network will be there to counsel you and offer guidance for success.”