This energizing discussion with the founding mothers of midwifery Ruth Lubic and Kitty Ernst will inspire you to take action and make a difference in the future of nurse-midwifery. With more than fifty years of experience these founding mothers are full of helpful advice, inspring messages and words of wisdom for midwives today. Hear their stories and experiences and realize the future of nurse-midwifery is in you.
Click here to learn more about the “Let Our Stories Move You to Answer the Call” virtual event from FNU President Dr. Susan Stone.
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We will be sharing a special message from Kitty Ernst each day throughout the Digital Summit, starting October 1 at 8 a.m.
View Kitty Ernst’s Daily Message
Eunice K. M. Ernst, RN, CNM, MPH, DSc (HON) – Frontier Nursing University – Mary Breckinridge Chair of Midwifery
For half a century, Kitty Ernst has been a pioneer in both the field of midwifery and in developing the best care possible for families in pregnancy and birth. Kitty has been a permanent leader in the nurse-midwifery profession since graduating from the Frontier Graduate School of Midwifery in 1951. Kitty has graciously shared her personal story, her passion, and her vision with every single class of incoming Frontier Nursing University students since the inception of the distance program in 1989. Her experience as a Frontier student — attending the home birth of a strong mountain woman — forever changed her view of birth and the potential role of nurse-midwives in the natural birth process. After practicing as a nurse-midwife, Kitty turned her attention to advocating for nurse-midwives to play an important and respected role in our society’s health care system, a pursuit she continues to this day.
While starting her own family, she began working as a parent educator, teaching some of the first childbirth education groups of the International Childbirth Education Association. As a field consultant for the Maternity Center Association, she developed a family-centered maternity care provided by an obstetrician nurse-midwife team at the Salvation Army Booth Maternity Center in Philadelphia. She designed a project to develop and evaluate a program of Self-Care/Self-Help Education Initiated in Childbirth, and assisted in planning and implementation of the demonstration Childbearing Center at Childbirth Connection. She was also the co-founder of the National Association of Childbearing Centers. As Director of the National Association of Childbearing Centers, she continued to be a leader in the effort to bring birth centers into the mainstream of health care delivery and helped to institute the Commission for Accreditation of Freestanding Birth Centers.
During the 1980s, Ms. Ernst became concerned about two issues: the small number of nurse-midwives being educated each year, and the fact that the majority of nurse-midwives being educated in large tertiary care centers had a lack of out-of-hospital experience. To address these issues, she led the design and implementation of the first distance education program for nurse-midwives, which was adopted by the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing and has grown to the present-day Frontier Nursing University.
Ruth Lubic, a nurse-midwife, has had a significant influence on the delivery of maternity care and child health care in the United States. Today, Lubic is considered among the mothers of the American midwifery movement. The recipient of a MacArthur “genius award,” she co-founded the National Association of Childbearing Centers, has inspired creation of more than 300 free-standing birth centers and is an American Academy of Nursing “living legend.”
Lubic has promoted midwives as the primary providers of maternity care (with physician back-up) as an effective and less costly alternative to the physician-based care commonly practiced in the United States. Widely used throughout the industrialized world, this model helps place quality services within reach of underserved, low-income populations. An advocate for such innovations as freestanding birthing centers, Lubic is respected for her equal dedication to quality of care and family empowerment. She has also instituted a program for new families in inner-city Washington, D.C.
Lubic is the founder and president emeritus of the D.C. Developing Family Center. She was general director of the Maternity Center Association for twenty-five years. In 1995, she was appointed an expert consultant in the Office of Public Health and Science, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to numerous articles, she is the co-author of Childbearing: A Book of Choices(1987).
Lubic received an R.N. (1955) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and a B.S. (1959), an M.A. (1961), and an Ed.D. (1979) from Columbia University Teachers College.
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