Kitty Ernst



Kitty Ernst is a certified nurse-midwife, graduate of Kentucky's Frontier School of Midwifery, with a Master's Degree in Public Health. For over 40 years she has been a pioneer in both the field of midwifery and in developing the best care possible for families in pregnancy and birth.  An early president and active member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, she conducted the first wave of accreditation for nurse-midwifery education programs and developed the first "What is a Nurse-Midwife?" brochure.  As a practitioner, she served families in capacities ranging from public health nurse midwife in the mountains of Kentucky to director of the nurse-midwifery service and education program at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, in the heart of New York City. 

While starting her own family she began working as a consultant, lecturer and parent educator, teaching some of the first childbirth education groups of the International Childbirth Education Association.  As a field consultant committed to innovation for the sake of healthy families, she developed family-centered maternity care provided by an obstetrician nurse-midwife team at the Salvation Army Booth Maternity Center in Philadelphia.  She directed a project to develop and evaluate a program of Self-Care/Self Help Education Initiated in Childbirth and assisted in planning and implementation of the demonstration Childbearing Center at Childbirth Connection.  She led the way in inspiring and coaching the many birth centers that followed.

She conducted a national on-site survey of freestanding birth centers and provided consultation for First National Collaborative Study of Freestanding Birth Centers.  As Director of the National Association of Childbearing Centers (NACC) she continued to be a leader in the effort to bring birth centers into the mainstream of health care delivery and helped to institute the Commission for Accreditation of Freestanding Birth Centers.  During this time she also served a term as Vice President of ACNM.  Meanwhile as the Director of the pilot Community-based Nurse-Midwifery Education Program (CNEP), she developed a model for meeting the overwhelming need for experienced birth center nurse-midwives committed to innovative family-centered maternity care.  She brought this model to a new arena as the chair of the ACNM National Commission on Nurse-Midwifery Education.  Currently she serves as faculty member of CNEP, Director of the NACC Consulting Group, and occupies the only endowed chair in the profession, the Mary Breckinridge Chair of Midwifery.  She is recipient of awards such as the Martha Mae Elliot Award for Exceptional Health Service to Mothers and Children from the American Public Health Association, The Hattie Hemschemeyer Award from the American College of Nurse Midwives, and the Childbirth Connection Medal for Distinguished Service.


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Childbirth Connection is a national not-for-profit organization founded in 1918 as Maternity Center Association. Our mission is to improve the quality of maternity care through research, education, advocacy and policy. Childbirth Connection promotes safe, effective and satisfying evidence-based maternity care and is a voice for the needs and interests of childbearing families.
Most recent page update: 8/15/2007