Nurse Midwifery

Nurse-Midwifery was the first of the advanced practice specialties to be offered by the School of Nursing. The program began in 1973 under the leadership of Sharon Rising, CNM, MSN. She and colleagues opened the Childbearing Childrearing Center for maternal and child care in a house in the University neighborhood. Women who received prenatal care at the center gave birth at the University hospital in a new practice launched by Rising and colleagues. The center closed some time after Rising left Minnesota due to political and financial issues. Upon Rising’s departure Kathleen Dineen, CNM, MS became the director of the program and served from 1977 until her retirement in 1993. She was followed for two years by Mary Rossi, CNM, MS before Melissa Avery, CNM, PhD, FACNM became the director in 1995. Program enrollment has fluctuated somewhat over the years, with over 300 graduates who have practiced or are practicing midwifery throughout the United States and internationally. The school began offering a post-graduate certificate option in the early 2000s for those prepared with another advanced specialty, typically WHNP or FNP. Clinical practice experiences are provided throughout the metropolitan and greater Minnesota areas as well as Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

For much of the program’s history it has received support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program has had continuous national accreditation through the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), formerly ACNM Division of Accreditation. The nurse-midwifery specialty transitioned to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in 2009 when the school discontinued the MS program. The program was the first nurse-midwifery program to be fully accredited as a DNP program. It has also been highly ranked by the U.S. News and World Report ranking system.

At this writing, Dr. Avery and colleagues are pursuing development of a free standing birth center as a clinical site for women seeking midwifery services and as an interprofessional learning site for nurse-midwifery students and others.


Glass, L.K. (2009). Leading the Way. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

Prepared by Sandra Edwardson, 2013