NARM STUDY RETREAT
Intensive Preparation for taking the North American Registry of Midwives Exam
Six days of focused review the week before the NARM Exam, taught and guided by Vicki Penwell, a midwife with experience preparing over 300 students to pass NARM and become CPMs using this method of intense retreat review and practice the week before the exam. While there are no guarantees, a very high percentage of students who studied with Vicki have passed NARM the first time.
This special retreat offers six full days of study with a different practice multiple- choice test each day, oral quizzes, individual guidance with test taking tips, and evenings spent in review, reflection, reading, nature walks and spiritual calm. The NARM Study Retreat is held in a quiet setting with no distractions, no TV, and best of all, you will have no responsibility except studying for your midwifery board exam! Personalized help can be given to each participant to learn their own unique learning style.
The retreat is held each February and August before the NARM exam in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of the Northwest, in the capital city of Boise, Idaho.
After all your years of hard work to become a midwife, give yourself every chance possible to pass NARM by setting aside the week before the exam to prepare for this most important milestone in your midwifery career.
Price includes food, lodging, transportation to and from airport, all materials, and brain-healthy snacks. If you have any special dietary restrictions, let us know. We cannot always avoid certain foods, but we will have plenty of alternatives available at each meal.
Bio on your instructor: Vicki Penwell has been a licensed midwife since 1983, and was one of the first to take the NARM exam back in 1991, so she has been a CPM for over 20 years. As director of Mercy In Action College of Midwifery and Primary Health Care, Vicki has trained hundreds of midwives over the years and along with her teams, provided for free deliveries for more than 12,500 poor women in the Philippines. She lectures internationally and has a chapter in Robbie Davis-Floyd’s new book Birth Models that Work.
August 12-17, 2013
February 10-15, 2014
August 11-16, 2014
...and the week before each NARM exam (NARM exam is always on third Wed in February and August.)
• Six days of intense formal study sessions to prepare for NARM = $500
• Seven nights and six days of food, lodging and local transportation = $450
• Time away from normal life & distractions to prepare for NARM = Priceless
Register early to hold your spot by paying in full online, as enrollment is limited due to our retreat lodging availability.
Click here to register and pay fees
For the NARM Study Retreat there are no refunds for any reason. Students who pay for the retreat are financially expressing their commitment to attend the retreat. If an emergency arises and you are unable to attend, you may write and ask for your unused payments to be converted into a donation to Mercy In Action. In this case, you will receive a tax reciept at the end of the calendar year for the IRS. However, be advised that if you make that decision, and then decide to attend a future retreat, you will have to pay tuition again.
Every day follows this main guideline:
6 am: Nutritious breakfast is laid out Bed and Breakfast style
8-11:20 am: Practice multiple choice test
11:20-12 am: Practical test taking tips (all evidence based on studies looking at how to improve test scores using methods like what you eat, what you drink, how you move your body, etc on the day of the test)
12:-1pm: Lunch break/ time for a short walk on our scenic canal or nap in a hammack in back yard
1-3pm: Review over practice test question by question to find your mistakes; catagorize mistakes into things to study, or just test-taking errors to practice avoiding next time, such as mis-reading questions, etc.
3-4:30pm: Learning games on topics that are weak for group (these learning games are also an evidence-based way to learn)
4:30-6 Review study time, individual or group--all the first-line NARM books are in our library; we suggest looking up all missed answers on that days practice test and making 3x5 cards)
6-7 pm: Nutritious dinner
7-bedtime: Open study, individual or group. Yummy dessert served at 8 pm each evening.
How to get here: Fly into Boise, Idaho and we will pick you up at the airport and drive you to the retreat site. You will travel on Sunday coming and going, and be here Monday-Saturday all day.
Click here to download flyer for the NARM Study Retreat - Idaho
NARM Study Retreat - Feb. 2010
I came to the retreat a few months before I was scheduled for the NARM exam. I wanted to come early and find out what areas I needed to concentrate my studying instead of the week before. I cannot tell others how glad I am for that decision! It allowed me to fill those academic "holes" and not stress out about what I didn't know. I now have plenty of time to spend on my test-prep studying without worrying about cramming it all in over a period of mere days. Coming early also allowed me to enjoy spending precious time with other midwives from all over the world, incuding the wonderful Vicki and Manga! It was such a privilege to learn from everyone and support each other throughout the NARM process.
The best gift I have ever given to myself, in my 35 year journey into the art and craft of midwife, was a week of rest and focus before I took the NARM. For a whole week Vicki created a nurturing environment of support and sisterhood. She modeled for us all what it truly means "to midwife" another. She supported our natural knowing, told us we were smart, feed us amazing food, made us do the work, and helped us to laugh and feel safe. The experience of preparing for such a big event is very much like preparing to give birth, you need to take it seriously. I hope everyone who is planning to sit for the NARM, exercises their best self-care before this test. And if at all possible give yourself the gift of this retreat, it is worth every penny! Thank you Vicki and Family for helping me do my best! I PASSED ...
~Deb Puterbaugh, CPM
"What an amazing experience to be in Boise for the Retreat. It was exactly what I needed to get myself ready for the exam day. I appreciate your philosophy and knowledge deeply, and feel as if I learned more than I expected from you in the time in Boise. Many BLESSings..."
~Danielle Denwood, CPM
I'm over the moon that I passed and wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your retreat. I know it played a huge part in helping me feel prepared and having the tools I needed to do my best. I'm forever grateful!!!
Tthank you again!
"Vicki's NARM Study Retreat exceeded my expectations! I initially signed up for the retreat in order to optimize my time before the exam and in hopes of avoiding major stress the week of the exam. I figured we would spend our time "cramming". What a surprise! Instead, we systematically reviewed what I had mastered and what I still needed to work on. Her patience was unending. The retreat has increased my confidence. And, instead of just preparing me for the exam, it has helped me prepare for going out on my own as a midwife, filling in the gaps and increasing my understanding of difficult subjects. Vicki is a living treasure. I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend learning with her. I couldn't have made a better choice about how to spend the week!"
~Aimee Fairman, CPM
Vicki, I really want to send a heartfelt thank you for the gift of yourself and your reteat. I truly believe that I would not have passed without the retreat. You really eliminated any hurdle that could have been in a candidates way. You addressed test anxiety, time restraints, test stratigies, along with review of knowlege. The level of confience you gave each one of us was priceless. You were our "test doula" and worth every penny.
Thanks again, Until our paths meet again.....My Best
~LaNette J. McQuitty, CPM
The NARM study retreat exceeded my expectations in every way and I am recommending it to all my friends and colleagues.. I learned so much that week about midwifery and test-taking strategies. I don't' think I've ever learned so much in such a short period of time. Vicki was an absolute pleasure to be with, and she was so supportive of everyone in our group. There was a nice variety of activities and I was always surprised at how the time flew by. Although we worked hard, we also had a lot of fun and there was a real feeling of comraderie in our group. On the morning of the NARM exam, I had almost no test anxiety at all, and the small amount of nervousness I felt was completely manageable using the techniques I learned from Vicki. I went into the test feeling relaxed and confident. This truly was a priceless experience.
~Sommer Halligan, CPM
By the end of the week spent with Vicki I actually enjoyed taking tests, had a new circle of beautiful midwife sisters, felt calm and well prepared, discovered what I didn't’t know and was able to do something about it. It was also a great review that built my confidence and showed me how much I had learned. Throughout the retreat the learning enviorment created by Vicki always felt safe, efficient, inspiring and fun. Most importantly I was reminded why I love being a midwife, how it’s not about me, and what this is all about. That helped put all the stress in perspective. In the end this allowed me to do my best on the day of the test.
When I sat for the NARM I felt well prepared, lots of questions felt familiar from taking so many practice tests and I glided through it calmly knowing what to do. I want to thank you, Vicki, for answering my prayers and showing up as a wise generous teacher in this point in my life....I know you said not to look at our number scores but I thought you should know that thanks to both you and your sister I had 13 points more this time than I did last time. I don't think I knew that much more knowledge, but I knew how to take a test and how to work with all the words I don't understand in English, which is 100% your retreat!!!!
~Marva Zohar, CPM
I am so grateful for the opportunity to have attended the NARM Study Retreat with Vicki and her family. The week was everything I'd hoped it would be, plus more. Over the course of the week, I found a perfect balance between reviewing material I was familiar with (although some I had tucked so deep into my memory I risked forgetting) and expanding my awareness by absorbing new material, from Vicki but also from the amazing group of midwives that came together for the retreat; all of us trusting in a process that leads us to being better midwives. The daily practice exams washed away my fierce test anxiety, allowing me to sit in front of the actual NARM exam with clarity and excitement. Taking a full week to dedicate to midwifery studies boosted my confidence going into the NARM exam and allowed me to see that the emphasis is on community and a desire to journey deeper into midwifery, at an individual pace.
I am extremely appreciative of my NARM Study Retreat experience. Thank you Vicki!
~Mandy Toavs, CPM
Together we created a wonderfully cooperative and supportive space for our study retreat, and Vicki's kindness and humor set that tone from the get-go. I so appreciate what the retreat offered, both personally and professionally. Not only do I believe that the rigorous schedule of practice tests and study sessions fully prepared me for both the content and nature of the NARM, but I also walked away with a handful of incredible new friends and fellow midwives.
~Susan Smartt, CPM
Awesome! I am so thankful to you for taking the time to put this retreat together. It was a tremendous help to me in preparing for the NARM. I learned so much and put together so much in my head that before was justa jumbled mass of facts. You are a marvelous teacher. The format that you used was very helpful in alleviating my test taking anxiety. Lastly I appreciate finding out my strengths and weaknesses on multiple choice tests and strategies to read, analyze, and better understand the test questions. I know my scores improved substantially because I attended.
Blessings to you,
~Kristen Hock, CPM
Attending Vicki's study retreat made all the difference for me. It not only helped me review and cement the knowledge that I already had, but it helped me overcome my test-anxiety. Vicki had a very calm and reassuring way of helping all of us find our strengths and weaknesses in test-taking, and we got the opportunity to practice our new-found skills daily with her practice tests. Going over the answers as a group was very dynamic and helped me fill in the gaps. I felt so confident and prepared the day I took the NARM.... something I never could have imagined possible! I felt like I was walking on air after I left the NARM exam because I really felt that I was able to focus and apply myself without any nervousness. And of course, I PASSED! Thank you Vicki!
~Dani Kennedy, CPM
Thanks Vicki! I can say with all honesty that I could not have passed without the retreat.... all that study time with other midwives & having you to walk us through questions/things we needed to understand better (like pelvemetry :) was just soooo invaluable & to be honest, the practice tests made the NARM look like a walk in the park!
~Janna Grapperhaus, CPM
Well Vicki, what can I say, you saw my struggles, namely my phobia of testing, and my disbelief of passing the NARM. You were tremendously encouraging. I loved the way you had the NARM Retreat set up. There was never a dull moment! Your help was priceless, taking the fear right out of testing! I will recommend it to anyone that is so busy they find it hard to organize themselves to buckle down to the books. I still can hardly believe that it's behind me, and I passed! I thank God for you Vicki! God Bless you!
~Talitha Mills, CPM
Your retreat was truly the perfect way to bring together all the areas of study I had been foraging in for so many years. As a PEP process applicant, I had a broad range of experiences and my education was mostly piece-meal over many years. At the retreat, I was able to bring together everything I had been learning and doing all in one continuous, comprehensive, indepth review. Our days were so well designed around learning and absorbing. Even on the first day I felt like things were starting to sync and each day after was added to that. The focus on test-taking strategies revealed specific areas I needed to work on to tweak my score. Also invaluable was the feeling I had on the day of the test. I went into it feeling like "bring it on! I'm ready!", instead of feeling intimidated or unprepared. I knew it would be hard, but I also knew I had strategies for dealing with that. I believed that if I didn't pass, it would be because I just didn't know all they want me to know, not because I knew enough but was a poor test-taker. Thank you for putting together such a nourishing and thorough plan to get us ready!
~Rebecca Coolidge, CPM
I had such an amazing experience at the retreat and am referring EVERYONE in our practice planning to take the NARM. I feel that your coaching has helped so much in preparing. Thank you for your love and support on this last leg of the CPM journey! This week was one of the most memorable in my midwifery study and I am so grateful for the work you do to train midwives. You are a gift and I feel so blessed to be a part of this bigger picture.
~Amy Hendrickson, CPM
Vicki is an intuitive and effective teacher, and her teaching style caters to all different types of learners. I cannot imagine taking the NARM without having gone to the retreat! It made me see the "holes" that I had in my knowledge base, and helped bring to the surface all the things that I learned early on as a student. Vicki helped me recognize test-taking weaknesses that I didn't know I had. The retreat was a very safe learning environment; I never felt embarrassed if I made a mistake or didn't know an answer. All of the other women at the retreat were so supportive and eager to share their "tricks" for remembering a concept. When reviewing information that was confusing in my books, Vicki was able to explain it perfectly, in a way that made sense and really stuck in my memory. What a pay-off! I walked into the test with confidence, knowing exactly what to expect. I was calm and prepared. And, I passed!
~Kathleen Lorenz, CPM
I passed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you soooooo much for everything! Your retreat is the bomb!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
~Sandi Villafana, CPM
The NARM study retreat was exactly what I needed as a PEP process candidate who had done mostly self study. This retreat helped me focus, see exactly where my weak areas were, familiarize me with the formal testing process, and increase my confidence. The retreat is well organized and planned, with just the right balance of teaching, practice testing, and personal study time. Vicky Penwell is one of the most competent and engaging midwife instructors I have had the privilege of learning from. She makes great muffins too!
~ Roxanne Anderson, CPM
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly could not have done it without you giving of your time to help prepare me. I will be forever grateful. God bless you
~Rosetta Schwartz, CPM
In all of the years that I studied to be a midwife I felt only dread and fear when I thought about the day that I would have to take my NARM exam. What scared me the most was knowing that I possessed the knowledge to be a competent midwife, but not knowing if I would be able to convey that in my answers on the exam. Participating in Vicki’s Study Retreat changed those feelings for me. Each day my confidence grew until I found myself “in the eye of the storm”, taking my exam, filled with peace and assurance that I could accomplish the task at hand. Vicki taught me how to see the questions in ways I would never have thought of. She helped me identify small gaps so that I could fill them. She encouraged me by reminding me of how far I’d already come and inspired me by reminding me of why I was pursuing the CPM in the first place. Vicki’s NARM Study Retreat is about more than just overcoming test anxiety, though it is extremely helpful for this. It’s about having the most tools in your toolbox for the biggest day of your midwife life! I cannot thank Vicki enough for the wisdom and confidence she imparted to me.
~Rachel Elling CPM, LM
It is an honor to send you my words of appreciation for the NARM Study retreat. It was a saving grace to be studying with other midwives right before the exam. The loving support and guidance provided to us by Vicki proved to be the glue that allowed me to endure the eight hours of testing. After taking a practice test everyday for a week I was able to release my testing anxiety and think clearly and logically about each of the questions during the Exam. What a wonderful group of women. We bonded through the experience, and we will remain friends. This retreat was key for me in passing the NARM exam. So much love and respect, Vicki, for such an amazing time at the Retreat. I loved the food, loved the company and felt that you created such a great atmosphere to learn in and gain confidence in. Thank you Vicki, Terry and Mercy in Action for your dedication to helping student midwives.
~Sally Cooper, CPM
By the grace of God, I came across Vicki's retreat in a google search one day. I was looking for something that was going to help me put it all together, so to stay, and give me the time to do nothing but study and prepare for NARM. I did not know what to expect when I signed up for Vicki's retreat, nor was I sure how it would help. I have a lot of test anxiety, especially when so much is on the line, and the daily tests helped me immensely. It showed me where I was weak, where I was strong, and what I needed to study. The afternoon discussions and reviews were very helpful, and the review on pelvimetry was exactly what I needed. I am so thankful that I found this retreat and the wonderful opportunity it was for me. I highly recommend for every midwife preparing to sit for NARM to take this retreat. Thank you, Vicki, for all you do at helping midwives succeed.
~Shannon Stelhorn, CPM
The NARM study retreat was the best thing I could have done to prepare myself for sitting for the NARM exam. It made ALL the difference in my passing the test. Vicki and Scott made it such a wonderful learning environment. It was so lovely and helpful to have time carved out to study and learn; and to have that be the only and most important thing you had to do. The food was very yummy and brain building, the practice tests were so helpful, and studying with & sharing it with such wonderful women who were on the same journey was priceless! I am so grateful to Vicki and the retreat. I know I could not have passed without it!!!
~Marcie Webb, CPM
The 6-day NARM study retreat was absolutely priceless! Each day was full of rich learning experiences, strengthening the knowledge that we already had, recognizing our areas of weakness and building upon those. Vicki's wisdom in midwifery is matchless as is her love for teaching and walking alongside students. The time spent away from life's distractions was invaluable... the only thing I had to focus on was midwifery and preparing to take the NARM! This was a gift in and of itself! Likewise the camaraderie amongst the women as we walked this journey was a blessing both during and after the test. The friendships and support that were a result of this intense study retreat will continue in the years to come. I walked into the NARM test with confidence and peace... I left feeling the same. This was the result of the 6-day retreat! Vicki, thanks for being the ever-gracious host, teacher and friend!
~Alissa Shattenberg, CPM
I attended Vicki's NARM Study Retreat in February 2012. It was time and money very well spent. Being immersed in all things midwifery, learning essential test taking skills, and taking mock tests over and over made a HUGE difference to me. So much of the anxiety of taking the NARM was cooled off by the end of the week and so when I actually went in for the exam, I was much calmer than I would have been had I not attended the retreat. I passed and have just been granted my LM and CPM! Thanks, Vicki!!
~ Rowen Holland, LM, CPM
Just wanted to thank you for the NARM retreat. It definitely helped me to pass the NARM the FIRST TIME! Yes! Thank you.
~Krissy Molander, CPM
It was a challenging test. If I had not taking your review, I feel like it is unlikely I would have passed this first time taking it in my case. So I am thankful to you for offering the course for me. I have learned a lot of respect for CPM's by me going through this process. As I told you the last day, even if I had not passed the test, the review is still a good one and to me would be worth taking regardless of any test considerations. I did advance or improve on some weaknesses in knowledge/ skills while there. Enjoyed meeting you and getting to know all the others."
~Mark Sherfey, MD, CPM
This NARM Study Retreat solidified my academic studies and gave me some valuable test taking tips and skills as well as just a safe place to gain some focus and peace in those nervous days prior to taking an exam when it seems like your whole future hinges on passing! Vicki has a very unique way of disseminating a wealth of information. You don't always realize how much you are taking away until much later. Not only did I pass, I did very well and I owe much of that result to the course because I arrived in Boise not feeling very confident.
~Bettie Sheets CPM,
I am so pleased to be able to tell you that I passed the NARM! I am grateful for the week of focused time that I had at the study retreat. I believe it made all the difference for me. It gave me great test taking skills and the mental confidence to push past my fears. Worth every penny! And every minute spent studying! Thank you!
~Holly Sikha, CPM
Thank you so much for the wonderful retreat! It was great to have a time of concentrated study before the test. I appreciate all your care and energy that went into the efforts to prepare us. I am glad you shared your vision of midwifery in the world. It was a good encouragement and reminder that each one can make a difference.
~Karen Garley, CPM
I just wanted to thank you for providing us an opportunity to learn test taking skills and showing us where the "holes" in our learning were. During the study retreat I made new friends, refreshed all sorts of material I had forgotten and moved test taking anxiety out of my system. I was calm and focused on test day and most importantly- I PASSED!! Forever grateful to you- what you've accomplished here and internationally is really inspiring. You are an angel here on earth!
~Rebekah Lake, CPM
Just letting you know that I PASSED! Praise God! I am so thankful for the time spent at the retreat. With 3 kiddos at home and a life to live while trying to study, it was amazing to be able to set aside that time to ONLY focus on midwifery and studying. I know that my time at the retreat made a difference! Thanks again for everything!
~Kim Daly, CPM
So happy to tell you I passed!! I am so very grateful to you and what you do for midwives! Someone told me "You can't "study" for the NARM", ...but while I had certainly been studying the material for four years I needed a lot of review. I also want to say that actually going through the motions of signing in, getting sat down and waiting for you to give us our practice tests, etc literally cured me of all my test anxiety symptoms. I was calm, rested and alert the day of the test. Your retreat is beautifully devised and I will always recommend it to others. I was inspired by your wonderful positive spirit. That is the kind if midwife I wish to be, and the kind of sister midwife and teacher midwife as well. I believe that negativity can take on a spirit and grow, but as we all witnessed and experienced in your wonderful retreat so can positivity! It is alive and dynamic! I had worked myself into quite a fright and felt my very legs had been swept out from underneath me. You not only helped me get my feet back under me, but you encouraged all of us to help steady one another as the week proceeded forward. It was wonderful and I have made connections that I am sure will last a lifetime! I look forward to happy days ahead doing what I was born to do. Again thank you, thank you THANK YOU!
~Margie Kline, CPM
With Gods help and you I PASSED!! Thank you for not only having a great program and retreat but your encouraging words! I needed that so much. Thanks for everything!!
~Melinda Pond, CPM
What a blessing to be removed from the grip of life's responsibilities to completely focus on the NARM! Having always been an anxious test taker, the practice tests and review provided a calm. They affirmed me in what I already knew well and gave me the opportunity to further study my weaker areas. Normally I rush, fearing I will not being about to finish in time. The pretests gave me a better sense of pacing and the confidence to slow down and do well the first time through.
Both the structure and having other women around me doing the same, helped me to maintain my focus. It was wonderful to mutually share knowledge and fun ways to remember information. During our session there were women from 11 different states. What a treat to develop friendships, hear about individual journeys, and learn about birth practices in so many different areas.
The retreat is more than help in passing the NARM. Not only is the review important as midwives, it models getting over ourselves, building a habit of study, seeking evidence-based practices, connecting and encouraging fellow midwives, committing to raising up new midwives, and using our skills to serve the world. Thank you Vicki for your positive attitude and passion for birth!
~Ronda Perea, CPM
I feel very privileged to attend the Aug 2013 NARM retreat. It was a great opportunity to get away and just focus on the NARM. Even though it included long days of staring at midwifery questions. It was exactly what I needed to study and prepare for the NARM. Just as the website says, it is priceless experience. You come out of the retreat knowing what your strength and weakness are and tons of test taking strategies. If you come with the attitude of learning and motivation to put all you have into it; You will receive just that. If you need to be alone to study or feel like being a group works best, this retreat is a perfect place to study and prepare.
It meant so much to me have time exclusively devoted to preparation for the NARM exam. The environment was comforting and peaceful. The study time, methods, and content was invaluable. I passed the NARM exam. I do not hesitate to say that for me, the study retreat made all the difference. A grateful 'THANK YOU" .
It was a pleasure to spend a week with you at the retreat. I have learned a lot in a short period of time. Your course was refreshing and so was your hospitality. Thanks again for your time, patience, and sincerity of assistance.