Husky Nurses open midwifery practice in Covington

Husky Nurses open midwifery practice in Covington

L to R – Clare Sherley, ’15 , Jane Simmons, ’16, Bree Herndon, ’16 and Tina Dawdy

Like any other Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student, Bree Herndon,’16 had a final project. Little did she know, that project would give her the opportunity to start her own nurse-midwifery practice after graduation.

As a student in the Nurse-Midwifery track, her final project involved working with MultiCare Health Systems (MHS) in their efforts to offer immediate postpartum long-acting contraception to patients delivering at MHS hospitals. That project evolved into a job offer to be the first midwife in the MHS South King County region. She was the first midwife in the Auburn practice. Another UW School of Nursing DNP alumna, Jane Simmons, ’16 soon joined her, and then alumna, Clare Sherley, DNP, ‘15.

With their experience and knowledge, they were then given the opportunity to spearhead the opening of a new birth center in a new hospital, MultiCare Covington Medical Center in Covington, WA a small city in South King County. The hospital has a 10 bed, midwife-led, Family Birth Center.

“One of the most appealing things about starting this practice was being able to shape the culture of the practice and recruit other nurse-midwives who have a similar approach and vision,” Herndon said.

Being able to form the team we have now has been a fun experience and I have partners that I feel very supported by and who I want to support in turn, plus we have a shared vision of how we want our practice to look and grow, she said.

Herndon worked with Dr. Ira Kantrowitz-Gordon, UW assistant professor of nursing and the DNP-Nurse-Midwifery track lead. He provided a sounding board for ideas, perspective and insight, she said.

While most new graduates choose to find jobs in existing clinics and centers, starting a new clinic and birth center takes a lot more bravery and innovation and comes with many opportunities and challenges, Kantrowitz-Gordon said.

“Instead of doing things because ‘that’s how it’s always been done,’ Bree and her colleagues had to think about how they wanted it to be done and how can it be done in a new way,” he said. “This took a lot of compromise, convincing and advocacy. “This is a wonderful opportunity to be involved in the planning and implementation of a new service. I am excited and proud that our UW DNP graduates are prepared for these challenges as they make an immediate impact on the health of our communities.”

Overall the experience has been a good one for Herndon, but the sheer logistics of building a practice and helping to open a new hospital can be mind-boggling and stressful, she said.

“This has been incredibly rewarding and exciting, especially in an era when hospital closures and mergers are far more normal than building new hospitals,” Herndon said.

Herndon became interested in midwifery during her undergraduate work in anthropology where she studied reproductive ecology and women of the Global South. Midwifery care appealed to her as a way to provide patient-centered care to patients and families that was high touch, low intervention and respected the normal physiology of pregnancy, labor, and birth.

The Covington clinic celebrated its grand opening on April 24, 2018.

Learn more about the DNP-Nurse-Midwifery program.