Career Day: Dentist

Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?

My name is Lucinda Hall. I grew up in Southern California and currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from BYU and I graduated from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco. I completed a one-year residency (called an Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency or AEGD for short) immediately following graduation from dental school. During my residency, I had the opportunity to provide dental treatment for disabled patients in an operating room setting. I worked in the oral surgery clinic at a local county hospital, extracting teeth and draining abscesses for patients transported from prisons and detention centers as well as individuals who unfortunately have no access to dental care and come to the hospital oral surgery clinic as a last resort. I worked in community clinics in low-income neighborhoods, providing basic dental services for some of the most grateful people I’ve ever met. I worked with several dental specialists on all sorts of interesting surgical cases, the likes of which my professors in dental school would never have let me take on! I currently work in a family and cosmetic dental practice where I treat 2-year-olds coming in for their very first dental checkup, 92-year-olds who may only be coming to see me for a few more years, and everyone in between.

What does your job entail?

My job is to diagnose and treat problems with the teeth, gums, and other related structures within the oral cavity. Part of my job entails educating patients on how best to take care of the teeth and gums. Most dental problems are preventable! I screen patients for oral cancer and talk to them about their diet and about habits like grinding or chewing on ice that can damage their teeth. I spend a lot of time fighting tooth decay. I treat infections and extract teeth that can’t be saved. I restore dental implants and fabricate dentures for patients who are missing teeth. As a general dentist, I am responsible for providing referrals to dental specialists when needed and act as the “quarterback” of the dental team in managing patient care. On a typical day I might see 6-8 patients for treatment or new patient exams plus another 3-6 patients for checkups after their cleaning appointments.

What drew you to dentistry?

I participated in a career workshop at a dental school in Southern California during the summer between my sophomore and junior years at BYU. We took x-rays, carved teeth out of wax, met dental students and professors, and even sat in on a couple of lectures. One of the dental assistants helping me take x-rays remarked that dentistry was a wonderful job for women because of the flexible schedule.  I didn’t have any friends or family members who were dentists and her perspective stuck with me. Read More

Voices from the Past: Silk Culture & Industry

by Brooke Nelson Edwards

In 1893, Relief Society sisters from Utah made quite a stir at the World’s Fair in Chicago. The group of women from the western territory had won a gold medal for their silk exhibit. This unlikely outcome, which caught the eye of French judges and Japanese silk experts, led to the final surge of interest in Utah silk. Many had doubted that producing silk in such a dry climate was even possible.

The industry began just a few years after the pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake valley. Brigham Young stated, “I wish to see this people manufacture their own clothing, and make as good cloth as is in the coat I now have on, and as good silk as in the handkerchief around my neck, and as good linen as is in the bosom and wristbands of my shirt. … I want to see the people wear hats, boots, coats, etc., made by ourselves, as good as ever was made in any country.”1 Depending on which account you read, the woman deserving credit for the experiment varies. Susan Stringham reported that it was a “Mrs. Dunyon from Draper” who first approached the prophet about importing silk worms into the territory. In any event, by the mid-1870s, the Deseret Silk Association had been established and Zina D. Young, also serving as General Relief Society president, had been named leader of the enterprise. Before the end of the operation in 1905, more than 5 million silk worms had been brought and more than 100,000 mulberry trees had been planted.

Nearly every one of the 150 local Relief Societies in the area had participated. “The strong organizational structure of the Relief Society, combined with the spirit of sisterhood among the women, resulted in an effective cooperative system. Each ward Relief Society was asked to send one sister to Salt Lake City to be trained in the art of silk production. These sisters then returned to their own communities to educate others.”1

Sister Stringham recounts how labor intensive the work of caring for the silk worms was. Eggs, as small as the point of a pin, were kept warm on paper until mulberry leaves were ready to eat in the spring. Then they were placed on special frames that took up an entire room in the house. Temperature had to be maintained at between 75 and 80 degrees and the worms had to be protected from any drafts and weather. The silk worms would molt every five days and required constant feeding. By the last two weeks of the worms’ growth before spinning, they even required feeding at night. Droppings had to be frequently cleaned as well.

Women were often surprised and overwhelmed by how large the silk worms could get and many discovered they had taken on more than their house could handle. “You could take what worms that you could place comfortably on your hand and they (placed on hurdles) when fully grown would fill a room sixteen by sixteen feet and eleven feet high,” Stringham explained.2 “At times some families had to move out of their homes to accommodate the ever-growing worms, which, if too crowded would not be able to breathe. One young woman reported that it was difficult to sleep with the sound of so many worms chewing, and that it was like a train thundering though the house.”1

Once the silk worms had finished growing they would spin a cocoon out of silky threads. A chemical was applied to kill the chrysalis and the women could finally harvest the long-awaited silk threads. One ounce of worms produced 160 pounds of cocoon material that then had to be boiled, spun, and wound. Relief Society sisters, many of whom were also active suffragettes, used some of this silk to make a dress for women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony.

Despite the success of the Utah silk makers at the World’s Fair, in 1905 the state legislature defunded the project and the church lost interest as well. The railroad made high quality silk from overseas much easier and cheaper to obtain than had been available previously.

Not much remains of the early Utah pioneer silk industry today. Most of the mulberry trees planted during that time to feed the insatiable silk worm appetites are gone. But Relief Society sisters proved that the “impossible” was indeed possible and that beautiful things can come from some of the most surprising of places.



  1. “The Silk Industry,”
  2. Susan A. Stringham, “Silk Culture in Utah,” The Woman’s Exponent, May 15, 1893,

Other sources:

Spring/Summer Meetups

Our AMW Meetups are back in full swing, starting at the end of May and running through June.

If you’re in the Salt Lake City area, our meetup will be a tour of the Relief Society Building on Temple Square with historians Jill Derr (co-editor of the recently published The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History and who worked as a senior research historian with the Church History Department) and Cherry Silver (General Board of the Relief Society from 1990 to 1997 and who is currently helping edit and annotate forty-five years of diaries written by Emmeline B. Wells). Due to limited space, this is a ticketed, but free, event. So join us on Wednesday, May 24 at 7pm. For more information and ticketing, please go here. 

To find out if we’re having a meetup near you, visit and subscribe to our events page to RSVP and to stay up-to date.

Women who have attended prior meetups share that they appreciate face-to-face connection and networking with other aspiring Mormon women.

If you would like to have an AMW meetup in your area and are interested in hosting, please contact us.


Making God Your Divine Center

by Christina Shelley Albrecht

You know that President Benson quote, “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can”? Have you ever wondered how to do that on a day-to-day basis?

I recently read a book that I consider to be a must-read for every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s called The Divine Center, by Stephen R. Covey. It addresses the confusion you sometimes feel as a member of the Church about the proper role of God, church, marriage, family, friends, making a living, and other things in our lives.

Have you ever heard someone say something at church or in conference that didn’t quite sit right with you? Did that person present his or her opinion as a general consensus or as an accepted doctrine, leaving you wondering if everyone else thought the same way and you were an outsider because you didn’t agree? Did you ever feel pressured to do something you didn’t feel right about inside? What do you do when you feel that way?

The answer given in The Divine Center sounds simple, and it can be, once you develop a trusting relationship with God: God is always first in your life, and He will let you know what to put second. And that won’t look the same for everyone. If you follow the Spirit and act in accordance with the guidance you receive, you will feel peaceful about your choice, regardless of how others respond. You will see God’s hand in your life as you move forward, acting on promptings you receive, and you will be amazed at what God is doing with you!

For example, a lot of aspiring Mormon women feel called to serve in the marketplace. Whether they are married or not, this can be a cultural challenge because of the emphasis placed on marriage and family. Many people see the role of motherhood as being a “full-time job.” The assumption is that if you’re doing it right, then you aren’t doing much of anything else, like spending a lot of time with your career. So, if you feel inspired, as I have, to dedicate tremendous amounts of time and energy on a mission you feel God has called you to do, how do you deal with the cultural feedback, silent or vocal, that what you’re doing is wrong?

You go back to God and make sure you’re on the right track, let His love and guidance strengthen you, and bask in the love and peace you feel, letting go of any concern that others may judge you for your choices. It’s not between you and them. It’s between you and God.

Putting God at the center of your life affects everything for the positive. It’s also possible to put things like marriage and family at the center of your life to your detriment, again, whether or not you are married. If your self-worth is based on your marital status, you’re on shaky ground, regardless of your marital status! There are obvious problems with being money-centered, possession-centered, pleasure-centered, friend-centered, and enemy-centered. But even becoming too centered on church activity and callings can be dangerous. The point is that the only abundant life is the life that is centered on God. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

While of course none of us is perfect, there are things each of us can do to always strive to be God-centered—especially when it comes down to the day-to-day time management needed to make our lives God-centered. Prayerfully planning my week ahead of time helps me sense what God would have my priorities be for that week. I schedule those priorities and then try to live flexibly, because I’ve noticed that the Spirit does a lot of in-the-moment guiding.

For example, a couple of Sundays ago, I woke up with this impression: Give your book to someone in the stake Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society presidencies. My response? “Okay.” I had no idea who was in the presidencies, how I would get their contact information, or how I would get them my book, but God knew, so I didn’t worry. And I was able to give them each a book within a week!

Recently, I prayed about what the Lord’s top priority for me to do that day was, and I felt I should email a former BYU professor of mine about a talk I’m developing. The working title is “12 Things from Church History that I Want My Kids to Know Before They Leave Home.” Actually, I want every member of the Church to know these things, which is why they’re all included in my book and I’m developing a separate talk on them. When I emailed my professor, I was shocked to get an immediate response! But, should I have been? The Lord knew my professor’s schedule. He knew when would be a great time for me to contact him so he’d get the email and have a chance to respond. Still, I find myself amazed that the Lord is involving Himself in the details of my life in such a visible way. It’s humbling and exhilarating at the same time.

I want to end with President Benson’s full quote:

Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” Ensign, Dec. 1988, 4).

So, go for it! Prayerfully ask if you are doing your best to put God at the center of your life and how you can do it even better, and then act on the guidance you receive. I can tell you from personal experience that as I strive to put God at the center of my life, it’s more adventurous and fulfilling than ever.

Christina Shelley Albrecht graduated from BYU with a degree in linguistics and a master’s certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). In the course of getting married and having children, she realized the need for books to support parents in having practical, effective, and fun family home evenings and daily scripture study. She originally compiled FHEasy: A Year of Weekly Teachings and Daily Devotionals for her family but also shared it with some friends. The feedback was so positive that she decided to publish it for all LDS families to enjoy. She has been surprised and delighted by the positive feedback she has gotten from single adults and empty nesters as well as families with children at home. She invites you to visit her website at

Personal Finance: Estimated Taxes – Do I need to worry?

By Jonyce Bullock, CPA

The 2016 tax filing deadline is barely in our rear view mirror and you probably don’t want to think about taxes for a long, long time.  However, now is exactly the time to start thinking about your 2017 tax liability so you can avoid penalties and tax liability surprises come next year.  Estimated taxes can be intimidating; but armed with an understanding of the requirements you can take charge of your personal tax liability and be better prepared!  If you are self-employed, thinking of starting a business, or find yourself having to write a check to the IRS each April – read on!

Paying Estimated Taxes? When You Should

It’s not just the self-employed who must submit estimated taxes. IRS obligations are pay-as-you-go.

Much as we may grumble about them, estimated taxes and payroll withholding are good things. Imagine preparing your taxes in April having not paid in anything through the 12-month tax period. Chances are, a large percentage of taxpayers would be filing extensions (which doesn’t get you off the hook for paying by the April deadline: You’re still expected to submit an estimate of the tax due).

If you’re a salaried or hourly employee of a company, it’s up to your employer to collect and submit an estimate of your income tax obligation every pay period, based on the withholding information you provided on your W-4.

The number of allowances you claim affects how much money is taken from each paycheck for taxes. If an insufficient amount is withheld, you may need to pay estimated taxes to avoid penalties.

But if you’re a freelancer or contractor who has no money withheld, the burden is on you. The IRS expects you to do the same thing an employer would: periodically (every three months) make a payment that approximates what you would owe for that quarter. Then, like everyone else, you’ll include that information when you prepare your income taxes, at which time you’ll either get a refund or have to pay in.

Everyone Is Subject

What this means is that the IRS expects all taxpayers to keep up with their taxes throughout the year. If you’re not having enough taken out of your paycheck, you should be submitting estimated taxes. You’ll avoid paying penalties, and you probably won’t have to file an extension.

Even if your withholding is working well for you, there may be times when you have extra money coming in because of things like alimony, interest and dividends, and prizes. You’ll need to factor this into your income. If you’re a sole proprietor, partner, or S corporation shareholder, and you believe you will owe $1,000 or more in taxes for the 2017 tax year, you’re expected to make quarterly payments. For corporations, the cutoff amount is $500.

Note: The IRS has different requirements for farmers, fishermen, certain household employers, and some high-income taxpayers.

Unless you’re paying electronically, you’ll need to visit this IRS page to print your estimated tax vouchers.

A Complex Calculation

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for calculating the estimated taxes you should pay every quarter. That’s why they call them “estimated.” And changes to the tax code aren’t finalized by Congress until the end of the year, by which time you should have made three payments (April 18, June 15, and September 15, 2017; your final quarterly payment is due January 16, 2018).

You can use the worksheet that the IRS supplies (you’ll find payment vouchers here, too). If you’re using accounting software or a website, it’ll be much easier to assemble the numbers. If your financial situation hasn’t changed much since the previous year, you could use your most recent return as a model.

The IRS offers multiple ways to make your quarterly estimated payments electronically. In fact, the agency encourages it.

Don’t Forget State

Do you live in a state that requires you to pay income taxes? If so, you’ll need to check with your state tax agency to see how to handle state estimated taxes. The Small Business Administration (SBA) maintains an online directory that you can consult to locate the appropriate website.

There’s no reason to add penalties to your tax bill when paying estimated taxes can help you avoid that. Although there is no quick answer for everyone on how much to pay; just knowing what your payment requirements are is an important step in planning for and managing your taxes each year.  If you need help calculating your estimated payments seek the advice of a trusted CPA.

Entrepreneur Feature: Rachelle, Counseling Practice

I’m Rachelle, and I am a Clinical Social Worker and an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker in private practice.

I started my own counselling practice, Happy Me Counselling, about 11 years ago in Melbourne, Australia. I felt inspired so I quit my job at a non-profit organisation and started my own counselling practice – with just one client! I now have a team of three counsellors (including myself) and an Administrative Assistant.

Through my counselling work with young children to adults, I have become really passionate about getting the most helpful and right tools that will make a huge different in their lives. As a result, I decided to launch an online shop.

The Happy Me Shop is an online website that lists the products I personally select – ones that I know can help families and educators. I use my expertise and clinical skills to test and then select unique and fun products to help with anxiety, stress, depression, ADD, autism, sensory issues, problem solving, fine and gross motor skills. I primarily focus on products such as fidget tools, books and toys that build skills and bring more calm and happy into people’s lives.

I also use blogging and my social media presence to advocate for normalising mental health and encouraging people to seek clinical treatment as they need.

What is your best advice for other (LDS) women entrepreneurs?

Never, ever, think you cannot do it. (And when you do, challenge that thought!) You are never inferior to anyone else, regardless of positions or callings. Believe this. Assert yourself when needed. And….get yourself a fantastic mentor!

There is no easy path, but if it’s the right path for you – it will work out. Maybe not how you expect, but it will work out.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

For my personal circumstances, it’s often been about sacrificing time. Having to prioritize time with my children and still juggle work, or even things like cleaning and shopping getting put on the back burner – again, and again, and again.

To what do you most attribute your success? What would say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?

I actually run a workshop that is called the “Five Keys to Private Practice Success.” I developed it around my learning from having a private practice. I will just share a few thoughts in each area.

  1. You – work HARD and believe in yourself, learn, learn, learn
  2. Your Practice – have processes in place and continually refine them
  3. Your budget and Income – be wise in how you spend money and always review this. Everything in business financially will impact your personal finances and vice versa.
  4. Your Clients – develop a niche that is needed within your field and become the expert
  5. Your Connections – utilize all your supports and connections, keep a list of who they are to remind you. Say “No” when it doesn’t work for you and “Yes” when you need help!

Career Day: Midwife

Tell us a little about yourself and about your job?

My name is Eve German. I’m from Hockessin, Delaware, and I currently live in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am a Certified Professional Midwife, meaning that I am a midwife who specializes in and was specifically trained to attend birth at home and in birth centers, as well as to provide comprehensive care in pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum and newborn periods for normal, healthy, low risk women and newborns. I have a bachelor’s in English Literature with a minor in editing from BYU, and a master’s in midwifery from Bastyr University, which is in the Seattle area of Washington State. I practice at The Birth Center in Salt Lake.

What does your job entail?

My job entails providing healthcare for women during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the postpartum period, as well as providing newborn care* for the first two weeks of each baby’s life. This breaks down into two main parts in terms of my schedule. 1) During the week I have scheduled clinic hours just as you would have in any medical office, where I see clients** for prenatal visits, postpartum and newborn visits, and well woman visits for non-pregnant women. This involves the actual face-to-face time with clients, performing any blood/lab work that they need done, and then charting each visit afterwards, and reviewing all lab results for the regular lab work and ultrasounds that are performed for our clients. I also facilitate a Post-Cesarean Support Group, which is held monthly, and provides support and healing for women who have felt traumatized by birth via c-section. I am also the Clinical Director for our clinic, and so I have regular administrative work of ensuring that our staff and midwives are meeting the highest standards of safety and care as they practice in our clinic. This involves regular chart reviews, where I review how cases were managed, regular individual meetings and group trainings with staff to review and discuss how practice and safety can be improved, and regularly reviewing and revising our practice’s written safety protocols and procedures to ensure that they are up to date, and reflective of the highest standards of care in midwifery and out-of-hospital birth. All of these responsibilities we call “clinic.” That’s about half to three-quarters of my job, depending on the week. The other part of my job is 2) being on call. This involves having my work cell phone with me at all times (I carry two cell phones: a personal phone, and a work phone for clients to reach me on), so that I can immediately receive any calls or texts from clients who have a need, and respond accordingly. The bulk of my call time I spend attending labors/births, primarily in our birth center (about 80-90% of births I attend at the birth center in any given month), but also at home for families who choose home birth (10-20% of our clients in any given month). Most births happen in the middle of the night, so call and births involves missing sleep on a fairly regular basis. While the bulk of my call time is given to labors and births, it also includes providing any care or answering any questions that our clients might have, from urgent to non-urgent needs and questions at any point in pregnancy or the postpartum, as well as general women’s health questions and concerns.

*At our clinic (and at every midwifery clinic that I have ever worked in) we treat moms and babies as a dyad, a single unit, conducting their follow-up care in the postpartum by seeing them together, and thereby treating them as the unit that they are. I and my colleagues are licensed and trained in newborn care for the first two weeks of life, and routinely perform all the tests, checks, and assessments that would be performed by a pediatrician during that time frame (PKU tests, newborn hearing screenings, congenital heart defect screenings, weight checks, jaundice checks, etc.), while also offering extensive breastfeeding support, and frequent checks of and support to the mother’s physical recovery, and her physical and emotional transition into the postpartum/newborn period.

**We midwives prefer the term “clients” to “patients,’ because we believe it is language with less of a power differential between healthcare provider and patient, and also reminds us as the healthcare provider that the client has hired us, we work for them, and as such we should treat them with respect, equality, and our best services, rather than taking a “Doctor knows best” approach.

What drew you to midwifery?

God. That is the whole answer for me. I never would have chosen this field for myself; it’s too demanding and the responsibility too crushing. I seriously didn’t even know that it was an actual profession. I thought it was illegal in the U.S., and that it was a practice so outdated and so unsafe that it would only be practiced in third-world countries if it was practiced at all. Like most people, what I imagined about midwifery, and what midwifery actually is, were two totally different things. I had no idea that it was an established, respected field, with outstanding outcomes for mothers and babies. I was shocked when I learned that research consistently shows that midwifery care at home and in birth centers is actually safer for healthy, low-risk women than delivering in a hospital is. And that was just the beginning of what I had no idea about.

Midwifery has been and is a calling for me. And I don’t mean that in the aggrandized sense of that word. I mean it in the burden/duty sense of the word. Don’t get me wrong; I love my work, I love midwifery, and I love. love. love working with families. But more than I love my work, I believe in my work, and more than I believe in my work, I know that this is the work that God wants me to be doing–whether I like it or not. I know this because of the experience that first led me to choose midwifery as my career.

I was a missionary at the time, serving my mission in the New Zealand, Wellington Mission. I had been out about a year, had been recently transferred into an area that my companion and I were opening up as a sister missionary area for the first time, and was working to get the work going in this previously very quiet area. On this particular day, we were going to knock the doors of very old “Potential Investigators” contacts that we had found in an Area Book that hadn’t been touched in about five years. I can still see the name and where it was on the page: “Dale, [his address], ‘has good questions.’”

Our area was very rural. In fact, the population of sheep and cows quadrupled the population of people. Dale lived in a tiny, little railroad track town, where there was one small corner store, a dance hall, and maybe fifty houses, all cut right down the middle of town by a busy railroad freight line. We knocked on Dale’s door, which was about 15 or 20 feet from the railroad track. The conversation was running its course. We must have been trying to set an appointment with him to come back and teach a full lesson, because he started to talk about what he had to do that next week. He mentioned that he had to watch his granddaughter that week so that his daughter could take an exam for her midwifery course.

As soon as he had said the words “midwifery course,” three things happened simultaneously: 1) a fast train suddenly roared by, totally drowning out any sound but itself, so none of us could talk to or hear each other, 2) Dale turned inside to look for a book he’d been telling us about, while my companion turned away from me and looked the opposite direction towards the street, and 3) a feeling hit me, directly in my chest, harder than any feeling had ever hit me before. It was electric, and it reverberated up and down my body many times over. The feeling was so strong, so physical, and had hit me so suddenly and so unexpectedly that I actually stumbled back a little bit, and stood wide-eyed as the feeling coursed through my body. With the feeling, came an overwhelming and an undeniable message. Clearer than words could ever dream of being, this message was communicated directly to my soul. Its meaning was so clear that I could never question it, wonder what it meant, or doubt that it had really happened. To translate that message into words, it was, “You should–and you will–receive training as a midwife. This is your next mission.” The train was fast and loud, and so it passed relatively quickly. It took maybe 15 or 20 seconds for me to be hit with that shock wave, stumble, receive the message, be slightly bent at my waist panting and both wide-eyed and teary-eyed, and then collect myself and start acting normal again, at which point the train was gone, everything was quiet again, and Dale and my companion turned back in to continue our conversation.

The timing of that train was so cosmic, and so filled with a heavenly love and compassion for me, because it gave me privacy: a rare and precious moment of privacy. For one, the almost total lack of privacy that comes with missionary life was one of the hardest aspects for me of my mission experience. I know that Heavenly Father knew that, and that He gave me that moment of privacy as a tender and personal gift to just my heart. But more important than that, that privacy, a few moments with no eyes on me, gave me time to fully receive and react to that message that would change my entire life from then on, without having to quickly recover, cover up, act normal, and divide my mind between breathing, acting, and talking normally, and trying to interpret this powerful feeling and the message that came with it.

It took me five years from that day to fully transition or adjust to my new life as a midwife. Those years were really hard for me. Birth was amazing, the women I worked with, trained with, was trained and mentored by were even more amazing, and I knew that I was lucky to witness and participate in the things that I was involved in day to day in my work. But it was hard, too; it was stressful, exhausting, and occasionally terrifying. In addition, life on call, never knowing when I might be called away or when I might be back, was really hard and really sad, because it took a heavy toll on my closest relationships. I spent five years feeling sorry for myself on a pretty regular basis. When people would gush and tell me that I “have the most magical job in the whole world! You must be like a magical birth fairy.” I would just stare back at them, having no idea how to communicate the raw, painful reality of my work, let alone the energy to try to convince them otherwise.

I was single for the first two years of my three-year master’s program, and I had made a solemn oath that I would never partner with anyone or have children, because I didn’t feel like I could inflict on my family the pain of leaving them so often, and during the times when most babies are born: nights, weekends, and holidays. But God had other plans, and along my partner came, and with him the only other feeling in my life that has ever been as strong as that feeling that called me to midwifery: the feeling that I should marry him.

I married him three months before I graduated from midwifery school. We dated and were married long distance while I finished school. After graduation, I moved from Washington State to Salt Lake City where he lived, and got a job at the birth center where I’m currently working. A year and a half later, I gave birth to our first baby, and took a seven month maternity leave. It was my son who taught me, showed me, how miserable I had been making myself by feeling so sorry for myself all the time about how hard and demanding my work was. For years I had ideated about having “a normal job,” with “normal hours,” and I felt sorry for myself because I didn’t have that. Through those early newborn days of taking care of my son (who had a terrible time learning how to sleep), I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself a lot. It was a revelation to me. As familiar and frequent as that feeling was, I had never called it “feeling sorry for myself.” I think if  I had, I would have realized a lot sooner that I needed to change my attitude. But as it was, that feeling had remained subtle and unnamed for years, stealing my power, blocking my joy, and stunting my growth as a person. As I felt sorry for myself that my son struggled with sleep, I realized that I was showing several symptoms of postpartum mood disorders. As I triaged myself and problem solved how to remedy my struggles with mood, I realized that I could be in the exact same circumstances and either feel sorry for myself, and therefore be weak, depressed, anxious, daunted, and depleted, OR I could feel willing–sincerely willing–to do the work of serving my son, and immediately feel strong, peaceful, content, and equal to my task. The circumstances were the same, but my heart was totally different. The Spirit taught me, gently and gradually, that I had been doing the same thing in my view towards midwifery, and that it was time for me to be different. It was time for me to be willing, sincerely willing, to serve in my work, and to therefore have true and unhindered joy and satisfaction in my work for the first time. *I want to be really clear that I am in no way saying that “being willing” is an adequate treatment for postpartum mood disorders. This is just one isolated part of my individual experience.

I had enjoyed and loved my work before, but always it had been overshadowed by my own self pity for how hard it was. I have been back to work for eight months now, and as much as the work is the same as it always was in terms of demand, I can honestly say that I have joy in it, that I love it all the way now and not just part way, and that I would choose this work now for myself, in a way that I never would have for the first five years that I was a part of it. Each day, each week, each labor and birth, each night away from my baby who still co-sleeps and nurses to sleep (and nurses to stay asleep), I see the direct correlation between my joy, my ability to be spiritually guided in my work, and my ability to strangle the self pity out of my heart, and let true willingness grow there. It is this practice, the practice within my own heart, that I believe is the reason why God called me to practice midwifery. There are so many others who can do the things that I do for families. They don’t need me. Not really. Someone else could do the same things. But only midwifery can provide the treatment to my heart that it most needs. I feel that midwifery is a calling given to me to transform me, and to accomplish my own personal Plan of Salvation. Midwifery is given to me to save me, to create me, to break me, and re-make me. And this year, for the first time, I realize that the gifts of midwifery are so much more, in quantity and in quality, than the things that midwifery might take away from me. And among the greatest of those gifts is having so many families to fall in love with, having such good, gentle, and important work to do for them, and having the sacred privilege of keeping them safe, and treating them the way that I would want my family, my baby, my body, my heart to be treated in the process of bringing my babies Earth-side.

What kind of education/training is required? What skills/personal characteristics are important to have/develop?

One of the main issues facing midwifery in our country, is that it is not standardized. That means that there is not one pathway, or one set of requirements for becoming a midwife. There are a number of ways that someone can become a midwife, depending on what kind of midwife they want to be, so that makes this a complicated answer. I’ll try to break it down to be as uncomplicated as possible.

Certified Nurse Midwife:

Bachelor’s in Nursing, with an RN (usually a three to four year program)

Master’s in midwifery, (usually a two year program)

Certified Professional Midwife:

Meet the prerequisites for the particular midwifery school you are applying to. Typically these are about the same as the pre-reqs would be for a nursing program.

Some schools require a bachelor’s degree, some don’t.

Complete the program, which is half academic, and half clinical practice apprenticing under a trained/qualified midwife or group of midwives.

For my school, it was a three year master’s program where I was required to complete a master’s thesis, complete all my coursework, and fulfill a long list of clinical requirements (demonstrating routine and emergency skills in a series of comprehensive exams, provide documentation of attending at least 100 births, had conducted 300 prenatal visits, a certain number of postpartum visits, well woman visits, newborn checks, etc. etc. all while being supervised by a trained/qualified midwife.)

There is a second option, which is a process called the PEP process, which is apprenticeship only, self study, without attending a midwifery school. Keeping this option open as a pathway to midwifery is a heated controversy in our field, and the odds of it being closed/phased out in the next several years is high, so proceed with caution if you choose this pathway.

What kind of job opportunities are there in your field?

Primarily working either as a solo midwife in your own practice with no partners, or working in a group of midwives either in a hospital-based practice (must be a nurse midwife), or in a birth center/home birth practice.

The University of Utah, and some other schools are now offering a PhD in midwifery, which is not a very long program, and many of the midwives who graduate from these programs do only midwifery research, and do not practice midwifery in the typical sense.

There is also quite a bit of activism and legislative work to be done in midwifery, that most of us volunteer for in addition to our regular jobs. But some people do just legislative/lobbying work for midwifery. There is a specialized one-year master’s program for this type of work offered at Bastyr University.

What types of jobs have you had within your profession?

Working as a member of a group practice of midwives as a staff midwife, and as the Clinical Director of our practice/facility.

What is the best part of your job ?

The families.

What is the worst part of your job?

Being on call and missing a lot of sleep.

What’s the work/family/life balance like?

Difficult, but something that I feel very strongly has made every member of my family stronger and more selfless to have to learn how to balance. My marriage is stronger, and my partner and I as individuals are undeniably made better by the hard work that it is to regularly sacrifice for the service that we provide to families. My partner views my work as a service that our whole family provides. He often says to me, “I’m a midwife, too, because the work I do makes it so you can go and do the work you do. Our whole family helps babies to be born. It’s all of our work.” (He is an artist, and teaches middle/high school art at a local private school, so he works as well.)

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

That midwives are unsafe, untrained, unprofessional, and without legitimate medical training and medical equipment. So, so false.

What opportunities have you had because of your education and profession?

Really, I’d have to say the whole experience has been one that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I had only ever wanted to be an English professor. And if it weren’t for that train, I would be, and would never have known or experienced any of the things that I have as a midwife, and as a student midwife prior to graduation.

What stereotypes or criticisms have you faced as an educated Mormon woman with her own career?

I don’t feel like I deal with this one much, honestly because, for better or for worse, Mormons value birth, are more likely to support midwifery, and tend to see midwifery as “women’s work,” and even as a calling, which culturally fits in much more comfortably with most Mormon’s societal views than many other professions. I’m not saying it’s right or fair that they see it that way. I’m just saying that’s the way it is.

What spiritual guidance have you felt as you have pursued your education and developed your career?

So much spiritual guidance. I have had experiences in emergent situations, where I felt as if my hands were on puppet strings, and I watched as my hands performed complicated and life-saving procedures that I had never performed before, and/or that I would not have known to do on my own. I feel the Spirit nudge me, teach me, prompt me, show me, and expand me and my capacities almost constantly in my work, mostly in the talking and listening that I do with people in their visits, though I feel it guide my hands fairly regularly too during birth. I feel that my worthiness has very little to do with the Spirit working in me or through me, but that it has everything to do with how much God loves these families, and how critical it is that these babies are born both safely AND gently, without fear. I could say a lot about this one, and tell a lot of stories, but I will leave it at that for now.

Entrepreneur Feature: Heather, Organizational Consulting

I am Heather Stone, and I have owned and managed businesses for twenty-five years. Most recently, I run a small organizational consulting firm out of a lovely little office in American Fork, about a mile from my home. I help companies figure out how to sustain a fast pace of growth without destroying their employees and owners in the process. This usually involves innovation in organizational structure, communication skills training, interpersonal coaching, and lots of possibility thinking. And I’m a word person so people always ask me to write documents for them. I am in the final year of my PhD work at the University of Utah. I expect to finish in May 2018 with a dual emphasis in Communication and Writing/Rhetoric. I am an award-winning teacher who has co-taught, taught, and assisted with twenty-three course sections in four departments. I spent the last two years observing teachers and helping them improve curriculums and learning in online and face-to-face classrooms. For my dissertation, I am conducting oral histories with women who moved from Mormon-minority to Mormon-majority communities as LDS teenagers between 1975 and 2000. I am examining the communication strategies women use to establish and sustain group membership and individual identity. You can find me at

What is your best advice for other (LDS) women entrepreneurs?

I want to tell women—especially LDS women—that it’s ok to do things their own way. So often people get trapped in the “shoulds.” I should stay home with my kids. I should work shorter hours. Or longer hours. Or go to school. Or quit school. I should look better, be better, think better, and above all, do better. Well, what would happen if you stopped trying to do all the things you think you should? A wise conflict resolution facilitator once taught me to ask, “How could things be otherwise?” If we really take time to answer that question, it may open up all kinds of possibilities. How could our lives be otherwise? I try and identify the one thing that is bugging me the most because I’ve found there is almost always a way to change just one small thing. I still remember the moment when I realized that I could get my dishes done by hiring a teenager. For $68 a month, my kitchen was cleaned to the bare counters twice a week without my having to touch a single plate. The neighbor kid who did the work was thrilled to have a flexible job he could do after football practice, and his work with me prepared him for the career position I referred him to when he got home from a mission. Far too often, the biggest barrier to having our lives be otherwise is our own limited vision as to what is possible. My brother once said that we are only as far away as the next good idea. We can think our way out of so many of the constraints in our life if we can truly believe that things can be otherwise than they are now.

What spiritual guidance have you had with developing and growing your business?

This topic of spirituality in business is a complicated one. We each interpret our relationship with God differently. When I studied hymns written by Mormon women, I found many variations in how these authors described spiritual guidance. Some women said they were inspired to write, that the words sprang into their minds fully formed. Others said they worked intellectually to create the hymn and then were guided by the Spirit to refine it so it would be consistent with God’s desires. One woman boldly owned her authorial position as she claimed that God’s part in her hymn was to grant her musical talent, which she then used to produce the song. I have been guided by the Spirit in nearly every aspect of my life, including professionally. I pray in the car on my way to every client engagement, every class I teach or take, and every meeting I attend. I believe my work is a calling given to me in my patriarchal blessing. I feel very strongly that God wants me to use my brain and my energy to do good in the world. But I usually keep quiet about my beliefs unless someone asks. I wonder sometimes if that limits my influence, but then I remember that we writing teachers really do encourage our students to “show” not “tell,” so maybe this way is ok after all.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The thing I enjoy the most about being an entrepreneur is also the thing I hate the most: that I manage my own time! Like many others in the AMW community, I am overly busy doing a whole bunch of personal and professional things that are very satisfying. I consult with companies, teach at a university, do research for my dissertation, and try to write articles for publication. And I have four kids plus a stray teenager who joined our family a few months ago, and a husband and two cats. But oh, is my life chunked. Chunking is a concept pedagogical researchers have used to talk about why online teaching is so different from on-ground teaching. Teachers who interact virtually with their students find themselves doing that interaction continuously, in tiny snatches here and there between their other commitments.

LDS women have always chunked but our chunking was previously in a single arena because it was nearly impossible even ten years ago to nurse the baby while simultaneously participating in the business meeting. Technology has allowed work to be distributed to more locations and formats, but it has also turned us into whirling dervishes who spin from job to kid to gym to email to laundry without even stopping to think about what new responsibilities we now have for imposing boundaries and structuring our time. I’m finding the self-awareness requirements challenging in a world where I can no longer rely on familiar organizational constraints to define my relationship to people and tasks. The personal and the professional are blended together for me in ways that are sometimes really fabulous and sometimes really unhealthy. And I have no one to blame but myself.

What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?

Oh, don’t even get me started as I type these answers at 3:45am. I often say that parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Well, neither is entrepreneurship. One of my favorite quotes is this: “The value of all education is learning to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.” Let’s just say I am well educated. And tired. Of course, my other favorite quote is, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, ‘Woo hoo! What a ride!” I believe in living life. When I get the choice to sit it out or dance, I want to dance. Three uncited quotes in a single paragraph. My dissertation advisor would be disappointed.

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