University of Pittsburgh Planning Doctoral Midwife Program

The University of Pittsburgh is currently seeking pre-accreditation status for its planned nurse-midwifery degree. The program is a doctoral degree that the school is hoping to bring to its School of Nursing in 2016.

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Federal data shows that midwives and nurse-midwives were present at nearly 8.2 percent of births in 2013. That number is more than double the rate in 1990. Most midwives engage in private practice, and their personalized approach to antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum care can cut hospital bills for mothers by close to 50 percent. There has also been a rise in demand for nurse-midwives in hospitals, which are already far and away the most common employment setting for these advanced practice registered nurses.

According to Suzanne Shores, the midwifery division chief at UPMC in Oakland, “Health care is moving in the direction where we’re creating inter-professional teams.” Shores also praised the University of Pittsburgh’s pending degree program, saying she believes the program will hopefully encourage more nurses to attain CNM (certified nurse-midwife) certification and eventually practice in the Pittsburgh area when they graduate.

The planned program would be the first of its kind in Western Pennsylvania, as Pittsburgh hasn’t traditionally been a location with a strong demand for nurse-midwifery services. Currently, prospective students looking to further a nurse-midwife career must look to Cleveland, Ohio for a similar program at Case Western Reserve University.

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Nurse-midwife education in the U.S. is up nearly 23 percent from 2010, according to the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. The commission now recognizes 1,096 available seats per year across 39 programs. Some of this growth can be attributed to rising online education capabilities. This booming field boasts nearly 11,000 practicing nurse-midwives in the U.S.

Pennsylvania is historically a high-ranking state for graduate nursing programs, with both the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the University of Pittsburgh ranking in the top 5 according to U.S. News Ranking and Reviews.