Category: Health Magazine, Winter 2024

Title:Celebrating 50 years of midwifery education with a call to action

Author: Karen Teber, Lauren M. Poteat, and Heather Wilpone-Welborn
Date Published: January 12, 2024
a woman stands at a podium in front of a screen
The 50th anniversary celebration featured a keynote address by
Ebony Marcelle, DNP, CNM, MS, FACNM (NHS’05). Photo: Photo: Rafael Suanes

The School of Nursing-Midwifery (NM)/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) program celebrated 50 years of midwifery education with a day-long symposium and celebration last October.

Inspired by Georgetown’s Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, or “care of the whole person,” School of Nursing Dean Roberta Waite announced the creation of a NM/WHNP & WHNP Student Emergency Fund.

“Our students are a priority,” said Waite at the symposium. “We believe that every student should not merely graduate but thrive during their program. This new fund will help our students who are faced with an unanticipated financial crisis.”

a crowd watches a presentation
The anniversary celebration featured remarks by School of Nursing Dean Roberta Waite, EdD, PMHCNS, RN, MSN, ANEF, FAAN. Photos: Rafael Suanes

The event featured a keynote address by Ebony Marcelle (NHS’05), director of midwifery at Community of Hope, a family health and birth center in Washington, DC. The NM/WHNP and WHNP programs at Georgetown first asked Marcelle to teach a course on racism in health care in 2013, a course she still teaches to student midwives and WHNPs a decade later.

“For centuries midwifery has existed to support marginalized communities,” said Marcelle (NHS’05) during her remarks. “Whether it be working in under-resourced communities, advocating for better regulations, or fighting for reproductive health rights, midwifery has had a presence.”

Her organization is dedicated to providing care for the uninsured and underinsured. “At Community of Hope, we are very mission-driven to support families,” said Marcelle. “We are listening to them telling us what they need and meeting them where they are at, while not being judgmental.”

Georgetown’s midwifery program began in 1973, one of 10 midwifery programs in the country and the first of its kind in the District.

What started as a nine-month, in-person certificate program has evolved into three online programs for the study of midwifery: a 27-month Master of Science degree in NM/ WHNP, a 33-month Doctor of Nursing Practice in NM/ WHNP, and a postgraduate NM certificate.

The on-campus objective clinical intensives, online coursework, and clinical placement make the program stand out, according to midwife and Professor Emerita Cindy Farley.

“Over the next 50 years, I hope midwifery becomes an established norm,” says Farley. “Midwives only do 12 percent of births in the United States, but they help promote positive health outcomes without unnecessary intervention, while also supporting the health of the family.”

More Stories

a man and a woman with binoculars look for birds in bright autumn foliage

Photo: Lisa Helfert How nurse-bioethicist Christine Grady (N’74, G’93) and her husband, new faculty member Anthony Fauci, live their commitment to public service, health, and each other In May 2023,…

a group of people stands in

The world is facing a silent but growing public health crisis—a decline in mental health and well-being. People’s experiences of negative emotions, such as sadness, worry, stress, and anger, have…

three women sit on a couch and two women stand behind them

Co-authors of The Game Plan: A Woman’s Guide to Becoming a Doctor and Living a Life in Medicine: (seated, left to right) Jessica Osborn, M.D.; Leah Matthews, M.D., MPH; Angela C.B.