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UAB relaunching nurse-midwifery program

Published: May. 5, 2022 at 10:28 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing is relaunching it’s nurse-midwifery program to address workforce needs and to improve perinatal outcomes.

For years, Alabama’s infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate are some of the worst in the country.

“How are we going to do things different? We’re in a sad state of affairs right now,” said Dr. Sheron Holley. She believes both rates could improve with more certified nurse-midwives.

Dr. Holley is the director of UAB’s nurse-midwifery pathway. She wants to reverse the trend when it comes to the mortality rate of new moms and babies in our state.

“By incorporating nurse-midwives into what services are offered, we’re going to be able to expand access to care,” said Dr. Holley.

She has worked as a certified nurse-midwife for around 25 years.

According to the Alabama Board of Nursing, there are only 21 CNMs practicing in the state right now, compared to over 81,000 registered nurses (RNs).

“When we look at states who have much better rates for maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, one of the things you’ll notice is there are a lot more nurse-midwives integrated into the healthcare systems of those states,” said Dr. Holley.

That’s part of the reason the UAB School of Nursing is relaunching the program. Dr. Holley was actually part of UAB’s last nurse-midwifery class, which graduated in 1996. For the past 25 years, the program has been non-existent.

“As a certified nurse-midwife, one of the common questions I get is: ‘Oh, you deliver in the home?’ And as a certified nurse-midwife, I’ve never delivered in a home,” she said. “I actually have only ever delivered in a hospital.”

The doctor describes nurse-midwives as being nurses first, with a specialty in midwifery. She says along with prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum care, they can also do annual exams, pap smears, birth control, and breast health care.

UAB is currently interviewing for it’s first nurse-midwife class of five students right now. The program begins this fall.

If you want to learn more about the nurse-midwifery pathway, you can register for the virtual open house on July 28 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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