Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Peer review

My first post back. Baby's sleeping and this has been floating around my mind for the last few days. It's just an idea at this point but it's already raised some big questions and solid answers in my own little community, so I thought I'd toss it out here for mastication by a larger crowd.

Doulas have networks, we have organizations that train us, certify us, promote a code of ethics and offer a grievance policy. We have networks that offer preceptors, apprentices, business training, networking opportunities, and referrals. We have online forums where we can ask questions to doulas all over the world about every topic we might come across.

What I've never seen is a peer review process. I know that medical providers have such a thing- using midwives as the example, this is a link to their standards as put forth by NARM. I envision something very similar for doulas- a round-table environment where the facilitator is neutral and not involved in the content of the meeting but holds the container of organization and safety for the participants. All participants would agree in writing to standards of confidentiality and these standards would be read before the meeting (maybe?). Everything said within the PR process would remain there. The doula bringing forward a case would have permission from her client to do so, but would respect the anonymity of the client by discussing only the most pertinent details to the issue at hand.

* The client's decisions would not be under review (as they obviously are her own)
* The medical decisions and behavior of the provider would not be under review

The facilitator would be on watch for discussion that tended to lead toward either of these topics (as it is very difficult sometimes to not ask WTF someone was thinking when they ____), and keep everyone focused on the doula's process.

The doula would then ask for feedback, support, and suggestions and would be able to hear back from the group.

Is there a need for something like this? I've heard some passionate desire to have this sort of thing and I've heard some dissent as well, but nothing that struck me as weighing so heavily as to make this impossible or even a remotely 'bad' idea.

The more I've Q&A'd this, the more it flushes out in my mind and the more I think that this process might be valuable to doulas as well. It's another way for us to develop our profession in a more complex and meaningful way. I'm becoming more and more supportive of the idea as it gains in complexity. :)

Feedback anyone?