There seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference between a midwife and a doula. It's simple, and very important:
A doula is a professional labor support person who offers physical, emotional, and mental support to the laboring woman (and oftentimes her family) from as early in labor as the woman wants it until the new family member is settled in and nursing. This is a great job and a wonderful service that improves birth outcomes (studies show this to be true).
A licensed midwife is a professional, licensed healthcare provider who can carry and administer some drugs (i.e. Pitocin to stop a hemorrhage, Penicillin, IV bags), perform some minor surgical procedures (such as sutures if the mama has a tear) and, of course, "catch" the baby or help mama or papa to do so.
The midwife, like the doula, offers emotional, physical, and mental support BUT in addition s/he is the professional person who is responsible for the health and wellness of mother and child. The midwife does all routine antenatal care (tracking vital signs, watching for signs of increased risk that may require a referral or transfer of care to an OB, counseling regarding nutrition, exercise, and whatever else the woman needs to discuss, labor progress checks, as well as newborn care through 6 weeks postpartum). Essentially, a licensed midwife offers routine antenatal care to healthy women having a normal, low-risk pregnancy in a way that encourages the woman to trust her instincts and remain "in charge of" her body and her childbirth process.
I am proud of my work as a doula, and being a doula should not be seen as merely a stepping stone to becoming a midwife. Being a doula is a time-honored profession of its own. Now that I am a student midwife, however, I find that many people seem to equate a doula with a midwife. Because a licensed midwife is a healthcare provider, the education, training, clinical skills, time, and experiences required in order to get licensed is exponentially more than the training required to become a doula. That isn't because one is better than the other, but because they are two very different circles of responsibility that, granted, have some overlap. What doulas and midwives certainly have in common is a desire to support women and families as they forge the new version of their family - with blood, sweat, tears, as well as laughter, smiles, and joy.