Midwives as the Quintessential Barefoot Doctors

© Jim Berg, MD,  1999


POEM:  Thank You To The Midwives

 Barefoot Doctoring is the grassroots approach to the healing arts that people use to help heal themselves, friends, family, and community. It is a lay or professional person’s endeavor to be responsible for their own health and those in their sphere of influence. The phrase “Barefoot Doctor” was popularized in the mid-1900’s by the People’s Republic of China, who trained lay people in the healing arts where medical care was not available.  The Chinese government supported local folk healers and customs, synthesizing it with modern scientific medical skills.  Farmers and field workers were taught effective hygienic and sanitation practices, disease prevention strategies, and the basics of medical diagnostics and therapeutics.  Exercise and nutrition were taught, as was first-aid, childbirthing, primary medical care, herbalism, and acupuncture.  Today, Barefoot Doctoring is popular in countries the world over, and refers to the concept of people helping people to heal.

[see poem:  The Barefoot Doctor]

                Barefoot Doctoring has emerged from very ancient roots, for it has been around since the very first person attempted to help another.  Indeed, any attempt to enhance the quality of our lives is a form of Barefoot Doctoring.   No material license is needed for this, nor degree or certification; and no governmental intervention is necessary to regulate or register Barefoot Doctors, for it is a natural tendency to have compassion for those in despair, and a natural right to attempt to comfort them.  Wisdom and skill are the necessary certificates, and consent the only license needed to engage in this sacred art.   Barefoot Doctoring is a covenant between two individuals who endeavor on the path of healing,  a path guided by respect, nourished by compassion, and protected by integrity.  Most importantly, a Barefoot Doctor combines the intention of love with whatever skill and wisdom that they have.   More than a degree, profession, or license,  it is a common vow of honor in the healing arts, respecting the hopes, rights, and needs of those seeking a healing.   

                Most Barefoot Doctors tend to specialize according to their own personal interests and the needs of the community.  Some become herbalists, others bodyworkers; some are midwives, others teach yoga;  some are medical doctors or nurses, others are bush doctors or shamans.  Many Barefoot Doctors take a more wholistic approach, combining many types of healing arts into their own unique blend and attempt to meet whatever needs that arise in their community.  Some practitioners do Barefoot Doctoring professionally, and others as a hobby.  Some have gone to years of schooling, some have done apprenticeships;  others are self-taught.  Some barefoot doctors are scientific, while others more intuitive; some are more conventional following protocol and modern standards of care, while others are more unconventional, doing “whatever it takes” to help another on their path.  What defines a Barefoot Doctor is the intention to use knowledge appropriately, while attempting to move the life toward a higher quality of existence.  For the most part, Midwives have been the Barefoot Doctors, for they have proven their honorable intentions and skill since the most ancient of days.

Even a brief glimpse into the history of midwifery will show that midwives are the quintessential barefoot doctor.  Clearly, the intention and care a society gives to the most precious of all human endeavors, childbearing, is a clear reflection of the healthcare the society is capable and willing to provide.  Midwives were certainly present in ancient days as evident in the bible and early Greek and Roman literature.  But like all barefoot doctoring arts, these arts were the arts of the people and not necessarily the academia.  And just as written history reflects the will of churches and kings and ruling powers, but neglects the history of the people, the history of midwifery and barefoot doctoring is present mostly in the wisdom and tradition of those practicing today.  As these women, like most barefoot doctors, were not academics, few written histories remain.

                Like all barefoot doctor arts, midwifery lives as one person attempting to support another during a time of need.  Until recently, it has had little organization and most of the training was passed down by example or word of mouth.  As cultures got more complex, apprenticeships were developed to assure that the wisdom was transmitted more systematically.  Yet as these healers, like most of the humans on the planet, were usually peasant class people with little financial means, these arts were passed on with little fame or fortune, known only to those lucky enough to bear direct witness to its wisdom.

                In more primitive cultures, where there is less class differentiation, midwifery and barefoot doctoring often keeps the respect of society as wise elders.  But as the class distinction becomes more obvious, those in power tend to want to control healthcare and midwifery.  History shows a distinct and clear conspiracy by political and religious forces to oppress both barefoot doctors and midwives, martyrs of  the freedom to heal.

                In the dark ages midwives and barefoot doctors provided care for the vast majority of peoples on this planet.  The oppression that befell them is a reflection of both the sex and class struggles that pervaded society through this millennia.  And though barefoot doctoring and midwifery may have been kept alive in the witches covens of the past, these so-called “witches” were often those seeking freedom as healers/midwives, as an inalienable right, whom those in power, usually the church and state, feared as instigators of civil unrest.

                The witch-hunts were calculated schemes to oppress these freedom seekers; the Church relied on pre-established doctrines that dictated how and why to live and heal.  Midwives and barefoot doctors were often free-thinkers and empiricists who used their own conscience and traditions to lend their wisdom.  Thus, these “witches” were accused of sex crimes, religious impiety, collusion with the devil, and having magical powers, and were tortured and slaughtered by the thousands.  As the political forces eventually subdued those of the church, those men in power continued to seek oppression of the barefoot doctors and midwives by requiring that these healers seek academic training and eventually licensure by the state to practice their art.

                In certain parts of Europe, midwifery was able to become respected as a necessary art and continued, although with the imposition of strict academic standards.  In America, the art of midwifery, like barefoot doctoring, was systematically oppressed by a ruling class of men who influenced the state.   The American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists was established in 1888.  The male dominated obstetricians convinced the American public that the science of childbirth was too complicated a specialty for “lay people” to continue to provide.  Women, they claimed, were not intellectually capable of utilizing the modern technology needed for childbirth.  Childbirth was compared to a disease to be treated with instruments, drugs, and surgery.  Certainly, midwives took business away from obstetricians and served women where they could not be observed clinically, and thus seemingly proved a detriment to the advancement of science.  While some American obstetricians pointed to the efficacy of midwifery in Europe and throughout history, the majority of obstetricians, like most doctors, sought to protect their economic territory by politically capturing birthing and healing as exclusively their own right and privilege. 

                In the early part of this century, foundation money began to support the idea that medical schools ought to conform to the John Hopkins’ germanic model of medical education.  The doctors’ exclusive right to practice medicine was consolidated in 1909, when upon the urging of the American Medical Association, the Carnegie Corporation sent Abraham Flexner to evaluate medical schools around the nation.  His report, published in 1909, effectively diverted financial support from the smaller medical schools that supported education of blacks, women and natural healers. In 1910, when approximately 50 percent of all births were done by midwives, new licensing laws began to be established that dictated that medicine be practiced by medical doctors trained at a certified medical institution as suggested by the Flexner Report.  Those practicing midwifery or healing without a license to practice, were persecuted as criminals.

                By 1916, the Census bureau statistics showed rising death rates amongst women and babies, clearly showing that the newly developed medical model was inferior to those that still included midwifery.  Nevertheless, despite these and many other revealing statistics, the conspiracy against midwifery and all barefoot doctoring, has continued until the present.  Barefoot Doctors and midwives were arrested, harassed and threatened into near oblivion.  A dark point for the ancient wisdom as it dwindled to a small and fearful flame. By 1953, the rate of midwifery attending births were down to only three percent.  No longer perceiving midwifery as a threat, the rate of propaganda against the ancient art slowed.  American women now relied on medical doctors to treat their childbirth as if it were a pathological, not natural,  process.  

                Women’s loss of faith in the birthing/healing as a natural process was accompanied with the loss of the ancient wisdom that has been handed down since time immemorial.  Midwives stopped training midwives, as the art dwindled to a point probably unknown since the earliest history of humanity.  Yet, like a light so eternally shining, midwifery, as a barefoot doctoring art, kept the wisdom alive. 

                Modern obstetrics exemplifies the blessings and curses of modern medicine.  It helps saves lives, and prevents unwanted pregnancy;  It is a lucrative profession and is guardian of the “standard of care”.  Obstetrics can also be extremely uncomfortable, expensive and invasive.  Obstetrics, like most of medicine, seeks to apply techniques, rather than respect the inherent healing and birthing capacity of human beings.  The excellent in the profession seek to educate their clients on healthier ways.  The less than excellent doctors, demand that patients comply with the protocol, appearing rude, indignant, and self-righteous.  Midwifery, like barefoot doctoring, has evolved to demand that respect accompany the skill.  As it came into the modern era, midwives now seek the freedom to practice their art.  The pursuit of this freedom has exemplified the barefoot doctors attempt to tie freedom with responsibility and skill with respect. 

                In the 1960’s and 70’s, a movement to reform childbirth emerged in the form of small gatherings and study groups.  Women began to demand the right to be allowed to care for themselves in the way that they preferred.  Women rallied and demanded the right to care for themselves and returned to having homebirths.

                By this time, most of the births were done within the hospital.  In some places, C-sections were greater than 50%.  Forceps, episiotomy, and induction of labor were the standards of care, misleading most of the population still to believe that the hospital was the responsible place to have a birth.  But, through the faith that birth is a natural process requiring intervention only occasionally, midwives sought to bring the birth back into the comfort of the home.

                New laws were passed, allowing women to have their births at home as long as it was with a “qualified midwife”.  Today the credentials of a “midwife” vary state-to-state but usually means one of the four types of midwives.  1) lay midwife 2) direct-entry midwife 3) certified professional midwife 4) certified nurse-midwife.  From a legalistic standpoint, a qualified midwife today refers to one who meets the requirements for licensure, and this can include any of the types of midwives except a true “lay midwife”.  The details of a qualified midwife varies amongst states.  From a Barefoot Doctors’ point of view, a qualified midwife is one who has honor and skill in helping women give birth.  Most states don’t recognized these qualification without a more formal education and licensure procedure.

A so-called “lay midwife” has usually apprenticed with an experienced midwife and focuses on homebirth.  They  also may have learned their art by direct observation and experience, from their friends, family, neighbors, traditions, faith and divine inspiration.  They are called “lay midwives” by those who consider them to have little or no academic or formal training.  By definition, they are not licensed midwives and usually practice illegally. Examples include granny midwives, church midwives, traditional birth attendants, “parteras” who serve Latino women in the American Southwest, and the many nameless ones who informally help others have safe out of hospital births.  

A “direct-entry midwife” provides care to women during the prenatal, birthing, and postpartum periods.  She may receive academic training from a midwifery school and has done a apprenticeship for appropriate clinical training.  In Europe, the term “direct-entry midwife” refers to those who attended a midwifery school that was not a nursing school.  In the USA, the term tends to refer to those who used multiple routes of entry to gain the core competencies needed to become a responsible midwife, without necessarily becoming a nurse first.  Many states have licensure or at least some form of certification for direct-entry midwives.  The bulk of their practice is homebirths.  Today, in the USA, less than .5% of all births are homebirths, and most of these are helped by direct-entry midwives.  

                A certified nurse-midwife (CNM) is a Registered Nurse that has furthered her studies to get a degree in midwifery.  To practice as a CNM, a nurse must attend an accredited nurse-midwifery education program, pass a national certification exam and meet the requirements of either the American College of Nurse-Midwives or American College of Nurse-Midwives Certification Council.  Because physician backup is required, the nurse-midwife usually works in the hospital, in an obstetrician’s office, or in a birthing clinic.  About 96% of  CNM attended births are in a hospital, 3% in a free standing birthing center, and only 1% are done at home.  Since the CNM is closely allied with the rigorous academic standards of the medical establishment, they are the midwives with the most power and numbers, and thus often are the ones who get hospital privileges, physician referral’s, and their services covered by third party payers. 

                A certified professional midwife (CPM) can be either a nurse midwife, or a direct entry midwife, who has received certification by NARM (North American Registry of Midwives).  Multiple routes of entry are encouraged, and after documenting proof of training and experience, the CPM can pass extensive tests and practical exams to allow them to be licensed if their state recognizes these standards.  The CPM credentialing validates multiple routes of entry into midwifery, respecting apprenticeship, schooling, preceptorship, hospital training and self-study as appropriate.  They urge a “competency based education” (CBE) where practical skills can be demonstrated as proof of completion of “core competencies”.  The certification process requires that there be clear documentation of practical experience as outlined in a “practical skills checklist”.

                Most states strictly forbid lay midwifery to be practiced.   Some form of licensure is usually required.  A person may not professionally help another person with their birth unless blessed by the state licensing board.  Recognizing that total freedom of delivery is as impractical as total freedom of healing, compromise had to come by convincing lawmakers to allow for qualified midwives that meet a standard of excellence as defined by each particular state.  Most states these days required some college level course material like biology, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and psychology, as well as a certified midwifery course and a certain minimum number of attended births, and the passing of a written exam.  A similar process has happened to many and most of the other barefoot doctoring arts like massage, naturopathy, nutrition, acupuncture and physical therapy.  All these need to meet state requirements, if they are allowed to practice at all.  This is greatly impinged on our personal right to practice our healing as we see fit; but it is a working compromise to the overwhelming oppression of the total conspiracy to forbid all except doctors to practice healing.

                Most of the other healing arts have given in and followed the tyrannical path of medicine requiring formal academic schooling, hospital based training and homage to the doctor as boss in the field of medicine.  But direct-entry midwifery, as it is now evolving, is seeking a different compromise.

                Midwives have always understood the value of gathering together to keep their sacred knowledge protected.  In the United States, this group was consolidated into MANA (Midwifery Alliance of North America).  Leaders and wise elders of midwifery met and churned out of their hearts, a set of core competencies that further define excellence in quality childbirthing.  MANA welcomes diversity, yet believes that midwives can honor multiple routes of training as proof of ones fundamental mastery of the core competencies.  This allows one who is choosing a midwife and homebirthing to know that a group of wise elders think that this person has learned what they need to learn to be helpful and responsible at births as a midwife.

                Most midwives believe that certification as verification of completion of core competency (currently now defined by MANA) and NARM skills is enough for a midwife to responsibly practice her art.  Unfortunately, a lot more is involved than that.  Giving in to a variety of political pressures, states have put restrictions on midwives that vary tremendously.  The arbitrariness of the licensure laws lead us to conclude that the government is confused as to the standards of midwifery, and thus more prone to the more conservative political pressures of the established medical community.  Midwives have to comply with a state to state standard, and sometimes no standards at all.  All the states can show us their wisdom by adopting a core competency practical skills checklist as demonstrated by NARM’s certification process of certified professional midwives.  As this has not happened yet, most midwives continue to practice either illegally or by finally buckling down and meeting the licensure requirements of each state in which they practice.  This proves to be expensive and often too academic to be practical.  MEAC (Midwifery Education Accreditation Council) was started in 1991 to provide educational standards and to evaluate programs doing midwifery education.  They accredited schools that comply with its standards as defined by MANA and NARM.  Those who graduate from MEAC accredited schools are eligible to qualify for the NARM exam leading to certification as a CPM (certified professional midwife).  MEAC also respects multiple levels of entries into midwifery which include apprenticeship, at-a-distance learning, certification programs, degree programs, programs within institutions, and private institutions.

                Like all certification processes these days, the expense and hassle of the paperwork keeps many individuals from fulfilling their dreams, and keeps many an institution from being created to help people learn how to birth responsibly.   MANA, MEAC, and NARM are the fruits of some of humanity’s deepest midwives.  A lot of deep thought goes into development of educational standards, accreditation procedures and agencies.  Yet even this does not allow each individual the right to practice her art without bureaucratic and financial nightmare of having to meet standards, even reasonable standards, as dictated by the states.  The honor of helping with births ultimately has to remain with each individual who has to answer to their own inner voice of wisdom.

                Defining the honor  of midwifery is thus challenging as it has no true standard, but the inner voice of righteousness that says, “Yes, this is right”.  When it comes to the qualifications of becoming a worthy midwife, there are certain evolutionary steps that excellent midwives take proving their success in their art as well as their skill and wisdom.  They usually start as a shimmer of a vision into the profundity of the art.  One day she thinks, “I will be a midwife”.  For years, even decades sometimes, this may remain only a vision.  But as a person matures and applies herself, she begins to study aspects of midwifery of interest to her. 

                Some choose to study formally at an institution or school.  Some seek out midwives and help out around births first just as a witness, then as an attendant, next as an assistant and soon or later if the bonds are good the student becomes an apprentice.  The goal of this student phase is to consolidate the knowledge neccesary to understand the natural processes of pregnancy and delivery.  MANA has a set of core competencies in the area of antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum and neonatal and well woman care.  The student’s job is to begin the acquisition of the knowledge base needed to successfully apply the skills to the midwifery. 

                Many students go to school, some do home study, some take workshops, some do on the job training.  The most important thing is that the acquisition of the knowledge occurs, and that the student becomes enthusiastic to apply this knowledge.

                The discipline of acquiring the skills of midwifery, marks the beginning of the apprenticeship phase.  Some people apprentice with only one teacher, others seek the skill by apprenticeship with many.  Some do more formal apprenticeships in hospitals or at birthing clinics.  Some attend homebirths.  The goal of their apprenticeship phase is the acquisition of wisdom that is the ability to skillfully apply the knowledge of midwifery into practice.  MANA has a list of core competency skills and NARM has developed a practical  skills checklist.  MEAC requires that all people graduating from a MEAC accredited school have acquired the skills within the MANA core competencies to become a CPM, and one must prove these skills through the practical skills checklist.  

                Finishing even an accredited school does not guarantee the wisdom necessarily to effectively handle a complex midwifery practice.  Certainly passing required state licensure even less.  Honor dictates that the apprentice obtain the blessing of their teachers, as well as the internal conviction that they are capable.  This is much more important of a need for qualification, but is much harder to qualify for licensure.  Different cultures and different traditions can dictate a different set of core competencies, but all cultures and traditions hope that apprentices be worthy in the eyes of their teachers and that they exude a sense of self-conviction.

Our society, lost in bureaucracy, litigation and greed, has lost sight of the need to require honor as part of the core competency.  If one takes the course, gets adequate grades, attends a certain number of births, they are eligible for licensure.  They can be poor decision makers, sneaky, overconfident, but this does not play into the equation.  These moral and ethical standards are not explicitly tested for by the state or accrediting agencies.  The best of all worlds produce a smart student and a skilled apprentice who develops into a midwife with wisdom and integrity.  Lack of any of these ingredients is a compromise to all involved in a birthing process.

[see “Barefoot Doctors’ Code of Ethics”]

Upon gaining confidence and the necessary theoretical background, the student usually apprentices with a more mature healer(s) whom they respect as having manifested the wisdom in the healing art which they aspire toward. This phase of practical endeavor usually takes many years to gain the confidence in the clinical skills that are necessary in private practice.  Some prefer to train in universities, others seek a more private  apprenticeship.  Some stick with just one teacher, while others prefer to taste the wisdom of many.  What is important is that they do gain the necessary clinical skills, and just as important, a style of applying the knowledge and skills that is effective, kind and reasonable.

                During these years aspiring as a student and disciplining as an apprentice,  a responsible Barefoot Doctor (as a midwife) in training also endeavors on a path of self-healing and community service.  A Barefoot Doctor should first recognize his/her own life as sacred, and seek to prove that true healing is possible in one's own being.  One's own life force is the one most immediately available, and thus the most accessible to prove one's wisdom and skill.   It is through this endeavor into self-healing that allows a radiance to occur from within the healer, a radiance of health and vitality, that immediately overflows into those seeking healing.  Failure on this path of self-care due to slothfulness, ignorance, or neglect implies a hypocrisy which obscures the integrity of a healer to those seeking assistance.   A Barefoot Doctor in training should also apply whatever knowledge and wisdom they do have into community service. This service, done from the love in ones heart, is for free, and sincerely shows that one’s intention is good.  Those who never truly serve another are not Barefoot Doctors, but rather healing mercenaries with selfish motivation.  No matter how good their skill, a worthy healer needs love overflowing from their hands to show that they are desiring to respect and honor those who seek help.

                This initial stage of aspiration, marked by an in depth study into the art and science of healing, the training in clinical skills, and a successful path of self-care and service, culminates when the teacher bestows their blessing onto the student who feels themselves ready to practice on their own.   This recognition may come in the form of a degree or certification, or as a simple nod of the head and a smile.  This ‘christening’ signifies the initiation as a Barefoot Doctor.  Reminiscent of a black belt in the martial arts, this first major initiation marks the move from aspiration to discipleship--the blessing to now pass down one’s art of healing and take on students and clients of one's own. 

                As the Barefoot Doctor continues in this path of discipleship, he/she matures into this next stage by successfully helping to heal people with her honor, skill and wisdom.  She begins to teach students about her particular art of healing and eventually takes on apprentices to train intimately.  Her self-care techniques are well established as a healthy lifestyle, and her service is shown to the community over and over.  Once her students become Barefoot Doctors themselves,  and they now begin to take on students, this marks a transition to a second initiation as a Barefoot Doctor--the equivalent of a second degree black belt.  

                The transition from Discipleship to Master begins at this stage.  A Master has taken his/her art to a new level- e.g. successfully started schools; developed and perfected healing techniques;  inspired and helped many people on their path of healing or as a healer.  This stage of Masterhood is the culmination of a Barefoot Doctor, proving that the fruits of her wisdom have flourished.  These stages are not necessarily ambitions or achievements, but a reflection onto the profundity of love and wisdom that a person can give in a lifetime.  They are not awards, certifications, or degrees, but are the fruits of honor .

                Thus we see that the art of Barefoot Doctoring, as exemplified by midwifery, can go as deep as a human is capable.  It can be the very instinctual compassionate urge to help someone in pain, or it can be the art of a Master who has spent a lifetime helping our species to better its’ quality of existence.  Barefoot Doctoring can be a lay person’s hobby, or a professional’s occupation.  It can be a strategy for either a specific healing art or for the very art of healing.   By its very nature it seeks to express knowledge and skill (wisdom) with a loving intention to help others heal themselves and become educated as healers.  Barefoot Doctoring is the way of a graceful healing, the way of harmonizing with the forces of Nature---the kind, loving way of healing.

[See “The Honor of Midwifery”]

                History has proven over and over, that honor does not dictate the right to practice a healing art, for this is influenced by so many factors;  but honor does help us to gain vision of where the practice of the art should be.  This vision has kept both healing and midwifery with the hope of freedom and responsibility in the delivery of quality care.  The success of this care is proven in the statistics.   The statistics clearly show that low risk home births attended by licensed direct entry midwives have equivalent neonatal mortality statistics and Apgar scores, less C-sections, and significantly less low birth weight births.  Yet, even licensed midwives are biased against, by not receiving hospital and managed care privileges, equivalent (if any) Medicaid and third party re-imbursement, and are denied the right to participate in the healthcare system as equal and independent practitioners of their art.  The Pew Health Professions Commission and the University of California San Francisco Center for Health Professions Taskforce on Midwifery has reviewed the current state of the art of midwifery, and made some bold statements concerning the future of midwifery.  This 1999 Taskforce report entitled, Charting a Course for the 21st Century: The Future of Midwifery, is as significant a document for midwifery as the Flexner Report was eighty years its prior.  The difference is that the Flexner Report hindered the growth of midwifery; and the Taskforce’s report will lead midwifery into a new age of opportunities.  Though these recommendations do not cover all the responsible and honorable midwives practicing today, it does give hope to those who have taken the effort to become licensed and “qualified”.   It encourages the US healthcare system to embrace midwifery by recommending that midwives be recognized as independent practitioners with the rights and responsibilities which all independent professionals share, and that the laws, rules and regulations regarding midwives reflects this non-discriminatory policy.  

It is the finding and vision of the Taskforce that the midwifery model of care is an essential element of comprehensive health care for women and their families that should be embraced by, and incorporated into, the health care system and made available to all women.


To fully realize this vision, a number of actions need to be taken. The Taskforce offers fourteen recommendations for educators, policy makers and professionals to consider. The Taskforce on Midwifery proposes these recommendations in the spirit of improving health care and hopes that the report will benefit women and their families through increased access to midwives and the midwifery model of care. The report should serve to inform managed care organizations, health care professionals and others who employ, collaborate with, and reimburse midwives about the midwifery model of care and its benefits. In addition, the authors hope to inform the profession of midwifery about the opportunities and challenges it faces in today’s health care delivery environment.

(Taken from:  Joint Report of the Pew Health Professions Commissions and the USCF Center for the Health Professions, Charting a Course for the 21st Century:  The Future of Midwifery, 1999.)

[See the “Pew Recommendations for the Future of Midwifery”]

                Until our society recognizes the right of individuals to practice and seek help in the barefoot doctoring arts, and until the practitioners have proven their honor and skill beyond doubt and recourse,  the government has the obligation to regulate the healing arts to protect its citizens from neglect, fraud, abuse and lack of skill.  Task forces like this PEW Commission, and wise elder peer groups like MANA, NARM, and MEAC, serve to balance the tendency towards over-regulation by offering guidelines for training and practice, that are fair, deep, safe, and accessible.  These organizations are shining examples to all the healing arts on the possibility of cooperative endeavor.  The individual practitioner’s own honor and conscience, tempered by these societal forces are the hope that humanity will move towards more fulfilling healing and birthing experiences.  The balance between freedom and regulation will go on, of this there is little doubt;  Perhaps now, after eons of control issues, they can endeavor on a path of cooperation that further aids qualified practitioners to serve in the most qualified of ways.   This is how the art of Barefoot Doctoring is evolving through midwifery.

Jim Berg, M. D. has a private practice of natural family medicine and acupuncture in the New Orleans area.  As a licensed medical doctor, he offers wholistic consultation in well-person care, pediatrics and internal medicine.  His training with herbs, Chinese medicine, yoga, tai chi and Qigong, bodywork, foods and lifestyle strategies, allows Jim to complement his general medical practice with other barefoot arts.  

Dr. Berg, with his wife Dee Anne Domnick, L.M., CPM, co-directs the non-profit Barefoot Doctors’ Academy’s School of Natural Medicine and College of Midwifery.  The Academy exemplifies the way of integrity and skill of the Barefoot Doctor.  Jim is a also a Clinical Assistant Professor at Tulane University, School of Medicine. He lectures internationally on many topics relating to wholistic, natural and complementary medicine, correlating his love for teaching with his love for healing.  Of all the arts that thrill him the most, Jim loves the art of Barefoot Doctoring, the art of caring for people.  For workshop information, call:  (504) 845-4247 or write:  P.O. Box 276;  Madisonville, Louisiana  70447-0276

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