The United States has experienced increasing maternal mortality rates over the last 25 years. In fact, each year about 700 women die of pregnancy-related causes and more than 50,000 suffer severe complications but do survive. Women of color suffer at three times the rate of Caucasian women. This presentation will explore how increasing the numbers of midwives as well as the diversity of the midwifery workforce can contribute to improved outcomes. Strategies for attaining these goals will be presented.
Susan E. Stone, CNM, DNSc., FACNM, FAAN
President, Frontier Nursing University
President, American College of Nurse-Midwives
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Dr. Susan Stone
Whether as a practitioner, instructor, university president, presenter or organizational leader, Dr. Susan Stone’s professional career has been consistently directed toward supporting advanced practice nurses through advocacy, education and innovation. As a nurse-midwife herself, she has had a special focus on advancing the midwifery profession. She has served as the president of Frontier Nursing University (FNU) since 2001 and is also serving as the current president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). Dr. Stone’s influence is felt throughout the profession every day.
Her path to this point began when she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from SUNY College of Technology in Utica, N.Y., in 1979. That launched her healthcare career, which included serving as an obstetrical supervisor at Little Falls Hospital in Little Falls, N.Y., from 1982-89, and as the program director of the prenatal care assistance program at Bassett Health Care in Cooperstown, N.Y., from 1989-92. During that time, she continued her education as well, earning a Master’s in Nursing Administration from SUNY College of Technology in 1989, followed by a Post-Master’s Certificate in Nurse-Midwifery from the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing (now known as Frontier Nursing University) in 1991.
Dr. Stone practiced as as a certified nurse-midwife at Bassett Health Care from 1991-99. During that time, she continued her affiliation with Frontier, serving as course faculty (1993-95); regional clinical coordinator (1993-95); assistant clinical director (1995-96); program director of the community-based nurse midwifery education program (1996-2002); and dean (2000-2001). She went on to earn her Doctor of Nursing Science from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tenn., in 2001.
Also in 2001, Dr. Stone became president of FNU, serving as both the president and dean before relinquishing the dean duties in 2014 to focus solely on her role as president and as a leader throughout the healthcare community. Dr. Stone has been active throughout her career in a number of organizations. In addition to her current role as the president of ACNM, she was the recipient of ACNM’s Kitty Ernst Award in 1999, recognizing “innovative, creative endeavors in midwifery practice and women’s health care.” She was later inducted as a Fellow at ACNM in 2005 and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2012. Other honors include the 2011 American Public Health Association’s prestigious Felicia Stewart Advocacy Award, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated a strong commitment to advocacy on behalf of reproductive health and rights.
Dr. Stone has made it central to FNU’s mission to diversify the student body with the ultimate goal of diversifying the health care workforce. Throughout FNU’s growth and innovation, Dr. Stone has kept the university on a path of commitment to the mission of educating advanced practice nurses and midwives to serve in rural and underserved areas.
Advocacy has been central to Dr. Stone’s lifelong mission. Recently featured as an AAN “Nurse Leader”, Dr. Stone has devoted her career to providing accessible graduate education options, particularly to nurses living in rural and underserved areas. The model of distance education allows these nurses to learn while continuing to practice in the areas where they live. The ultimate goal is to expand and diversify the primary care workforce, thus helping to fill in the gaps in accessible healthcare prevalent in so many rural and underserved populations.
Her devotion to this goal and her leadership at FNU has resulted in the tremendous growth of the university from 200 students in 2004 to an enrollment of over 2,000 today. Dr. Stone planned and directed the effort to achieve institutional accreditation for Frontier by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2004. Today, more than 6,000 FNU graduates practice in every state in the U.S. as well as several foreign countries. FNU’s growth was due not only to Dr. Stone’s distance-education model, but also to the addition of five new advanced practice nursing programs and to the transition from certificate granting programs to degree granting programs.
Dr. Stone’s accomplishments and reputation as a leader and advocate have led her to be a frequently invited speaker at national conferences. Among her many engagements, she has presented at such prestigious events as Beyond Flexner (2018, Atlanta); the American College of Nurse-Midwives annual meeting (2017, Chicago, Ill.); the International Midwifery Conference in Education in Research (2012, Nottingham, England); and the International Confederation of Midwives 28th Triennial Congress (2008, Glasgow, Scotland).
In short, Dr. Stone’s career lifelong commitment to midwifery, advanced practice nursing and education is improving healthcare for families across the country.
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