A New Offering in Nursing-Midwifery

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By Kelly Brooks-Staub

"To increase access to nurse-widwives for women, we need to increase access to nurse-widwife education. Our program with Hopkins can be a model for nursing schools across the United States." —Juliana van Olphen Fehr

Nurse-midwives are highly regarded in the health care community, receiving praise for their contributions in lowering the risks of neonatal mortality, infant mortality, and low birthweight. Students at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) can now join their ranks through a new academic offering: a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on midwifery.

The new program, described by Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Anne Belcher, PhD, RN, AOCN, CNE, FAAN as “an innovative and exciting partnership for advanced practice nursing,” combines the school’s enhanced clinical nurse specialist option with the Shenandoah University Division of Nursing (SUDON) Master of Science in Nurse-Midwifery program. Upon successful completion of this 51-credit option, students receive a Master of Science in Nursing from Hopkins and a Certificate in Midwifery from Shenandoah.

“Many nursing schools shy away from offering a nurse-midwife program,” says Juliana van Olphen Fehr, CNM, PhD, coordinator for the Nurse-Midwifery program at SUDON, citing as obstacles the expensive accreditation requirements and the necessarily low faculty-student ratio. Her solution? Establish one nurse-midwifery program in a geographical region for other schools to tap into. “To increase access to nurse-midwives for women, we need to increase access to nurse-midwife education,” says Fehr. “Our program with Hopkins can be a model for nursing schools across the United States.”

Students will take courses at JHUSON or online, then spend concentrated time at SUDON to discuss course material, hear guest lectures, and share their experiences with one another.

Four Hopkins faculty members will advise and mentor students in the program: women’s health experts Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN, and Betty Jordan, DNSc, RNC; and certified nurse midwives Nancy Woods PhD, CNM, and Ellen Ray, MS, CNM. The faculty’s goal is to have five students begin the program in fall 2007.

“At Hopkins, there is now a unique opportunity for advanced study in women’s health,” notes associate professor Phyllis Sharps. “Students can have the advantage of a Hopkins nursing education as well as advanced practice nursing education in nursing-midwifery.”

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