The other day a patient asked me how long I’d been a midwife. I had to think for a minute before I answered her. When I replied that I became a certified nurse midwife three years ago, I inwardly marveled at the passage of time.

There are times when I still feel like a novice and need to ask for guidance or help from my fellow midwives and collaborating physicians.  On those days, I start to question whether I will ever feel confident in my own knowledge and skills.

But when I work with student or residents, I can appreciate how far I’ve come. I now educate others based on my own experiences, synthesizing this with evidence and the knowledge I gained during my midwifery education. Working as a nurse for 14 years prior to becoming a midwife was also an invaluable experience, as the wisdom and skills gleaned during those years provide a strong foundation for my advanced practice.

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It’s easy to look back on the past three years and congratulate myself on getting past my rookie phase. I’ve established a comfortable practice in my community with a group that is respected and pleasant. Most days, I enjoy my work and the women for whom I care seem to like me, too.

But we have all met health-care providers who act as though they know it all.  As much as I dislike feeling like a novice from time to time, I do not want to become complacent in my practice. I’m quite aware that I have more to learn and am thankful to have colleagues who are happy to teach.

The practice of both medicine and midwifery is constantly evolving. I regularly read medical journals and attend continuing education seminars to stay current. I want to be able to provide my patients with the latest advances in care to compliment the practical knowledge that I continue to gain every day. The best health-care providers are successful at achieving a balance between experience and knowledge of the latest clinical evidence.

Robyn Carlisle, MSN, CNM, WHNP, works as a full-scope midwife at University Doctors and Kennedy University Hospital in Sewell, N.J.