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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

URI Graduate Program in Nurse-Midwifery
awarded $810,839 federal grant 4th straight federal grant
brings total funding to $3.14 million since 1993

KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 23, 2002 -- The University of Rhode Island has been awarded an $810,839 federal grant to continue its work as the only public university in New England to offer a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery.

The grant will bolster the URI Center for Nurse-Midwifery at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, its distance education collaboration with the University of Vermont (UVM), and its efforts to attract multi-cultural and multi-lingual students to the URI graduate program.

Since its establishment in 1993 within URI’s College of Nursing, the program has attracted $3.14 million in federal grants and graduated 45 nurse-midwives who now work in hospitals, private practices, university medical schools, military health care, clinics for the poor and with Native Americans.

The program has the distinction of a 100 percent pass rate on the national midwifery certifying exam.

"This graduate program is very important to the college, as it prepares nurse midwives for advanced practice in nursing," said Nursing Dean Dayle Joseph. "This is an important role in nursing and we are enthusiastic about the impact our graduates are making on practice. Midwives, who have a reputation of providing expert care during the labor and delivery process, are available to women in the Rhode Island community who desire such care. Funding from this grant provides us with an opportunity to educate the next generation of midwives, assuring a continued supply of practitioners".

"This grant will fortify one of the foundations of our program—serving needy populations through the practice of our nurse-midwifery faculty and the preparation of graduate-level nurse midwives," said Judy Mercer, associate professor at URI’s College of Nursing and director of its nurse-midwifery program. "In addition our continuing work with the University of Vermont will substantially benefit rural populations. Our graduates’ commitment to serving the needy in our region and beyond is one of the attributes of our program that is a continuing source of pride."

Mercer said the five primary objectives under the new three-year grant are:

o Enhance nurse-midwifery education at URI to improve access to quality women’s health care through preparation of culturally competent nurse-midwives and to achieve a 5 percent increase in minority or multi-cultural students.
o Maintain the collaboration with UVM and enhance the program through development and use of additional technologies for state-of-the art teaching and distance education. The collaborative program with UVM graduated its first midwifery student last spring. UVM does not have its own midwifery program.
o Enhance the primary care content in conjunction with the URI Nurse Practitioner Program, which also offers a master’s degree.
o Continue to develop the URI Center for Midwifery at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island.
o Continue and enhance the collaborative relationship with the Boston University, Baystate Medical Center and Yale University nurse-midwifery programs through additional use of distance technologies for shared teaching.
"All of the students get together at the various centers three times a year for programs in professional development," Mercer said. "We will continue to innovate and provide affordable access to this critical program. In fact, we plan to explore the possibility of expansion to Maine and New Hampshire."
Mercer, of Cranston, holds a doctorate in nursing from Catholic University, a master’s degree in nurse-midwifery from Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Maryland. A fellow in the American College of Nurse-Midwives and former director of the nurse-midwifery program at Georgetown University, she has been awarded a total of $5 million in grants during her career.
Other nurse-midwifery faculty at URI are:
Debra Erickson-Owens of North Kingstown, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, who before arriving at URI in 1998 was chief of obstetrics at the Air Force Academy, Colorado and former director of the Air Force’s Midwifery Program at Andrews Air Force Base. She obtained her midwifery education and master's degree at the University of Utah.
Kathy Pringle of Acushnet, Mass., a well-respected nurse-midwife in private practice and the former chair of the Rhode Island Chapter of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. She has started two nurse-midwifery practices in Southeast New England. She attended the Bay State Midwifery program in Springfield, Mass and obtained her master’s degree from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

For Information: Judith Mercer 401-874-5327

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116

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