Category: Health Magazine, Winter 2024

Title:Tools of the Trade with Jane Johnston Balkam (N’72, Parent’06, ’13)

Author: Gabrielle Barone
Date Published: January 12, 2024
picture of a silver laptop, nursing textbook, water bottle, lactation pump and baby doll, and a woman in a blue blazer
Photos: Phil Humnicky / iStock

Jane (Johnston) Balkam, Ph.D., APRN, CPNP, IBCLC (N’72, Parent’06, ’13)
Owner, Babies ‘n Business, LLC; Lactation Consultant and Professor

Georgetown alumna and parent Jane (Johnston) Balkam felt called to the nursing profession. “That interest in helping others was supported and buoyed by my experience at Georgetown,” Balkam says.

After graduating from Georgetown and beginning her career in general nursing, Balkam was given an opportunity to initiate the role of nurse epidemiologist for a large teaching hospital. She received a master’s degree and certification as a pediatric nurse practitioner in 1977, and practiced as a PNP for many years in a variety of settings.

a woman with glasses in a blue blazer
Photo: Phil Humnicky

“In the early days, we spent a lot of time explaining the role of the nurse practitioner to patients and other team members,” Balkam says. “However, we demonstrated the value of this role, and now there are multiple types of nurse practitioners who provide much of the primary care in this country.”

In 1991, Balkam’s interest in breastfeeding issues led her to start her lactation consulting practice, Babies ‘n Business, focused on support for breastfeeding women in the workplace.

Inspired by personal experience, Balkam and a colleague met with staffers of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues about the need to support breastfeeding women in the workplace. After this meeting, she had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations, including the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee and the Office of U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to promote legislation that eventually became the “Breaktime for Nursing Mothers” section of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Balkam completed her Ph.D. in 2006. After teaching courses at a few DC-area universities—including one year at Georgetown—she found her “academic home” at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she has taught for the last 16 years, obtaining the rank of full professor with tenure.

1. Laptop computer. Balkam taught nursing informatics classes as the profession digitized, and now uses the computer in a number of ways, including virtual classes.

2. Lactation pump and baby model. She uses the baby model to teach breastfeeding technique and the pump to teach mothers about milk expression.

3. Nutrition textbook.

4. Mug / water bottle. 

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