Health and Wellbeing Sciences (HWS) alumna Anna Anklam was four years old when her mother went into labor in the hospital parking lot. She remembers everything happening very quickly, like her mother’s midwife having to rush to “catch him.”
“It was really intense,” she recalls. “I was so obsessed with my mom's pregnancy and with the delivery. I think it was just one of those moments in your life, I just remember it so well, even though I was really young.”
Finding Her Calling
“I just always told people that I wanted to deliver babies,” she says. “You know how you say to your kids, do you want to be a doctor or a teacher, but my mom would ask, do you want to be a midwife?”
When Anna was in high school she learned more about obstetrics and even shadowed home-birth midwives on their clinic appointments. But when she came to the University of Minnesota, she was undecided about what to major in. She knew she wanted to be a midwife but wasn't sure about the different pathways to get there; she was also concerned about the difficult hours they often work.
Anna discovered the Health and Wellbeing Sciences major (then a concentration in the Inter-College Program) during her sophomore year. The program allowed her to build a major that would prepare her for a career in health care. She became a certified doula and started attending deliveries with a nonprofit group in the Twin Cities.
Her informal mentor suggested that she become a nurse midwife to expand her scope of practice. With the help of her advisor, Amy Burger Sanchez, she switched her focus from home birth midwifery to nurse midwifery preparation, with a focus on complementary medicine.
“(HWS) is such a useful program for people who want to do an advanced health degree,” Anna says. “You can tailor it to the things that you are personally interested in, while also checking off boxes for what they're going to require for grad school.”
Amy also helped her choose which graduate programs to apply to: Anna ended up selecting Marquette University in Milwaukee, where she currently lives.
The Best Part of Her Job
Anna has now been a midwife for three-and-a-half years and was a labor and delivery nurse prior to that. She believes it’s a unique privilege to be knowledgeable enough to be present and useful during deliveries.
“I just really like delivering babies,” she laughs. “It’s very fun. I've done hundreds of deliveries, and I still get so excited by the entire process. Parts of it are incredibly difficult and can be very sad, but most of the time it's really exciting.”
“(HWS) is such a useful program for people who want to do an advanced health degree. You can tailor it to the things that you are personally interested in."
Anna shares her practice, which is affiliated with Advocate Aurora in Milwaukee, with 11 other midwives. She sees her own patients and performs about two to three deliveries a week.
“Many of the patients that I work with are in an under-served part of Milwaukee,” Anna says. “They may not have the most picture-perfect life… but when they have a new baby—that moment when they meet their child—it’s a new page. It's like a new start.”
Pro Tips for Students
- Make connections. “I always encourage undergrad students, if they're really interested in a career, to reach out to those people who do that career and ask if you can buy them a coffee or what the process is for shadowing them in a clinic space.”
- Study abroad if possible. “I was able to study abroad with this major, and that was another really big thing that made me choose (HWS). I had the flexibility to do that and still graduate in four years.”