Susan DeJoy, CNM, MSN, PhD, Chief of the Division of Midwifery and Community Health, was recently honored for her pioneering vision and innovative leadership by the American College of Nurse Midwives Foundation (ACNM) with their most prestigious award, the Dorothea M. Lange Pioneer Award.
(Photo: Susan DeJoy receiving the Dorothea Lange Pioneer Award at the ACNM meeting in Albuquerque in May)
Led Innovation in Midwifery Practice
DeJoy, who has been at Baystate Medical Center since 1986, is its only division chief who is not a physician. Under her leadership, the Midwifery & Community Health Division has grown to include 23 certified nurse midwives who also care for patients at several practice locations outside of the hospital, including two community health centers in the city of Springfield.
Because of DeJoy’s pioneering work with the Department of Corrections for the State of Massachusetts, they have also been seeing patients at the Western Massachusetts Women’s Correctional Facility since 2004. Bringing the midwifery model of care to incarcerated women is unique in the nation.
DeJoy also spearheaded an initiative in 2000 to create the Midwifery Triage practice. Directed and staffed entirely by nurse midwives, it evaluates women presenting to the hospital with an obstetric or gynecologic problem.
Founded Successful Midwifery Education Program
Aiming to improve job satisfaction and retention of qualified midwives, DeJoy established Baystate’s Midwifery Education Program in 1991, one of only 39 accredited programs in the country. She served as its director until 1996, and still teaches in the program.
In May, the Midwifery Education Program, graduated its 95th and 96th nurse-midwives, Emily Jackson and Catherine Ann Ruell. According to DeJoy, 85% of the program’s graduates work in clinical practice, the majority providing care to vulnerable populations.
Graduates from all 22 of the MEP’s classes have maintained a 100% first-time pass rate on the American Midwifery Certification Board’s examination—a distinction shared by few other programs.
DeJoy attributes the success of her graduates to the fact that students are taught in the classroom and clinical areas by the same CNM faculty, who are also in active clinical practice. She feels that this consistency and reinforcement of the educational message is what sets the program apart.
Midwifery Education Program Benefits Patients, Too
“When you have students, you are forced to keep current with the latest trends in care. That means you are able to provide patients with the most current treatments,” says DeJoy.
Program graduate Rachel Ballester, CNM, agrees, “Discussions around evidence-based practice are always welcomed and encouraged, and I feel confident that I am receiving the most up-to-date information for my future practice."
According to DeJoy, the Midwifery Education Program has solved the CNM recruitment problem. And the opportunity it gives her, and many in the division, to develop as educators, clinical preceptors and mentors is one reason excellent nurse midwives stay at Baystate long term. And both of those facts mean that Baystate patients have better access to expert care.
Worked to Establish Midwife-Physician Collaboration
Dr. DeJoy has been instrumental in the integration of midwifery practice into obstetrical clinical care at Baystate Health.
Midwives are fully incorporated into the Department of Obstetrics-Gynecology where they are represented on department committees, and make an impact on every aspect of patient care.
The certified nurse midwives (CNMs), who hold faculty appointments at Tufts University School of Medicine, are also involved with medical education. They have the primary responsibility for teaching normal obstetrics to medical students and OB and emergency medicine residents.
"The hospital we learn in is a teaching hospital dedicated to producing the highest quality, evidence based practitioners, and the Midwifery Education Program fits seamlessly into the hospital and shares this objective,” says recent graduate Sarah Todd, CNM. “I will be a better midwife for having been able to learn in an environment in which physician/midwife collaboration is so natural and respectful.”
According to Susan Krause, CNM, Midwifery Education Program director, the extent of this integration throughout such a large tertiary medical center is a direct result of the work of Susan DeJoy.
The success of Baystate’s midwife-doctor team approach was featured in a 2015 documentary, The Mama Sherpas. Baystate was chosen after being recommended by the ACNM as a top model of midwife-doctor collaboration. It was also the topic of a manuscript, Successful Models of Collaborative Practice: The Baystate Story, co-authored by DeJoy and several of her colleagues in 2011, that was awarded second prize in the academic programs category by a joint American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists/American College of Nurse-Midwives committee.