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DNP Nurse-Midwifery Program Receives Full Accreditation

Five years after the DNP Nurse-Midwifery Program was granted pre-accreditation status from the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), it’s been elevated to initial accreditation through February 2027. 

It’s the first Midwifery program in western Pennsylvania and the only DNP Midwifery program in Pennsylvania. 

“A lot of people did a lot of work to make this happen,” said Nancy Niemczyk, PhD, CNM, FACNM. “I’m really proud of the whole staff.” 

Niemczyk is an assistant professor and played an instrumental role in getting the midwifery program started at the School of Nursing in 2016.  

“I’ve been practicing as a midwife in Pittsburgh since 1995 and since 1996 I’ve been saying, ‘we need to get a program in Pittsburgh,’” she said. “Before this, the nearest places to become a midwife were at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH or the University of Pennsylvania.” 

In 2014-2015, the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing made the decision to open a Midwifery program. Sandy Founds, PhD, CNM, FNP and director of the FNP and CNM programs, took on the work of preparing the materials for the development and ultimate approval of the midwifery program. By 2016 it achieved pre-accreditation status through ACME. In December 2021, the program was re-evaluated through a lengthy and elaborative process, and two months later received full accreditation through 2027. 

“ACME accreditation is designed to ensure that midwifery education programs provide high quality educational experiences, embody effective administrative policies and procedures, and are committed to continuous improvement,” said Angela Smith, ACME Executive Director. “Programs earning ‘ACME Accredited’ distinction have demonstrated compliance with the ACME criteria and are performing at the highest level of quality.” 

Four students have graduated from the DNP Midwifery program, received certification, and have taken on roles at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, the Midwife Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, Dubois and the Atlanta Birth Center in Georgia. Four students are currently enrolled in the program. 

The need for midwives is on the rise, according to Niemczyk, and studies have shown that midwives improve the outcomes of childbirth. The Cochran Database of Systematic Reviews published a study in 2013 finding that the majority of women who's prenatal and childbirth care were led by midwives have better outcomes, compared to those whose care is led by a physician or shared among other disciplines. Another study published in Health Services Research in 2013 found that midwifery prenatal and labor care at freestanding birth centers may be related to improved maternal and infant outcomes. That includes fewer overall interventions, cesarean deliveries, and better patient satisfaction. 

Niemczyk said she hopes the accreditation will help attract more students to the program. 

 “We have very close ties with our community partners, and I hope that we can really grow the midwifery population here in Pittsburgh that will start having an effect on some of our outcomes in terms of infant mortality, cesarean rates and things like that,” she said. “I think it gives prospective students a lot more confidence in applying and coming to our program, and it also makes us more eligible for more funding opportunities so that we can work on raising scholarship money to help our students.”  

For more information on the program visit https://www.nursing.pitt.edu/degree-programs/doctor-nursing-practice-dnp/bsn-dnp-nurse-midwife-major-onsite