Challenges and Opportunities Shared Across Generations

Last Updated by Katie Moriarty on
Neal Street Productions
Modern Day Midwife Katie Moriarty on the three Rs of Midwifery: relationships, resilience and reflection. 
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.

It is not always sunshine that spreads the seed
cleaving the armor—releasing the shoot
Darkness makes the hearts case fragile
Praying breaks it open,
Courage teases out the leaves, and
life unfurls and expands--thrusting upwards into light

Welcome back Call the Midwife. It is hard to believe we are embarking on Season 7 together. We have entered the era of 1962-63.  As I watched the characters in the show I was struck by the challenges/issues and the similarities that are still relevant as a Modern Day Midwife living outside of Detroit, Michigan.

Racism, prejudice and intolerance;
poverty, inequity and injustice;
workload and work/life balance;
& the intensity with the entrance & exit of the spectrum called life: birth and death

As I reflect on the show I keep thinking of my past week in Hyden, Kentucky. I was at Frontier Nursing University (FNU) with our wonderful incoming students (nurse-midwifery, women’s health nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and doctorate of nursing practice). They were at an event called Frontier Bound which helps them to prepare and bond as they are about to begin their educational journey. We were in the mountains where our pioneer midwives had lived and worked. We were walking on the same footpaths and sleeping, eating, talking and sharing in the same buildings as the British and American midwives that had cared for this rural community had also been.

For me, one of the most meaningful moments was when I had the honor of hosting a session where I got to introduce the students to Kitty Ernst, RN, CNM, MPH, DSc (HON). Kitty is the Mary Breckinridge Chair of Midwifery at FNU. She is 91 years young and is a pioneer and leader in midwifery. Kitty graduated from the Frontier Graduate School of Midwifery in 1951. 

In the 1980s she became concerned with the limited numbers of nurse-midwives being educated and also the manner in which they were educated—which was without the exposure of out of hospital experiences.  Kitty is a doer -- so she did something about it!!  She designed and then implemented the first distance education program for nurse-midwives in the USA. This model was then adopted by Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing which is now the Frontier Nursing University. Each Frontier Bound Kitty has shared the story of her career and midwifery life along with her passion and vision with the incoming students. 

Her message is powerful—she focuses—as the Nonnatus house nuns and midwives do—on three Rs: RELATIONSHIPS, RESILIENCE, and REFLECTION. 

The first “R” is relationships and realizing that community matters. She encouraged the students to build a foundation of relationships for construction of what you may do in your professional life.

The second “R” is resilience and the realization that your persistence is a predictor of success!  She encouraged them to nurture their resilience and to build a supportive community. 

The third “R” is reflection and that we can learn from our challenges and failures – and to see failures as opportunities!!  Know your strengths and weaknesses. Share what you learn with others – nurses and physicians.

So looking forward to sharing this Season with you and as the Nonnatus House nuns and midwives do their work—writing how I see things through the lens of a Modern Day Midwife. I look forward to exploring the interconnections, similarities and what are our shared challenges and opportunities!

Katie MoriartyKatie MoriartyKatie Moriarty, PhD, CNM, CAFCI, FACNM, RN is a professor on faculty at Frontier Nursing University and a Certified Nurse-Midwife with WSUPG CNM Service at Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the American College of Nurse-Midwives as the Region IV Representative. Previously she was the Associate Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at the University of Michigan.
Read More About Katie |  Read All Posts by Katie

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About the Modern Day Midwives

PBS and Detroit Public Television have partnered with experienced midwives to discuss their role in modern obstetrics and how things have changed in relation to Call the Midwife, which takes place in the 1950s and 1960s. Learn More