At the heart of Frontier Nursing University is a talented and diverse community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, Couriers and preceptors. Spotlight blogs feature members of our FNU community that are focused on the mission of educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to deliver quality health care to underserved and rural populations.
When Liz Nutter was working on her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Frontier Nursing University (FNU), she conducted research on water birth and became one of few experts in the field. Now, she is passing on her expertise and knowledge by mentoring other DNP students at FNU.
After Liz was introduced to the idea of a DNP, she knew it was a perfect fit. She decided to become a nurse-midwife because she wanted to stay at the bedside and implement change in her population.
As an active duty Major in the United States Army, Liz completed her studies while serving as Chief Midwife and overseeing a staff of nurse-midwives on top of her Army duties. Liz was the first midwife in the Army to have a DNP degree.
According to Liz, the DNP program has opened many educational and professional doors. Her area of expertise is water birth, which the Army has been doing since 2004.
“The OBGYN consultant to the Army Surgeon General contacted me and asked me to do a multi-center clinical trial to get a retrospective review of our data,” said Liz. “At the time, we were all using different protocols and had fantastic outcomes, but our data didn’t mean anything until we standardized our approach.”
Liz took her DNP as an opportunity to explore the evidence. She took an extensive look at the literature surrounding water birth and developed a protocol based on the evidence of her research. She put together the Department of Defense’s Water Birth Program, which included training for nurses and providers.
“The DNP allowed me to reach out to well-published experts that I would not have had the opportunity to speak with if my ‘doctoral student’ status had not opened those doors,” said Liz. “The DNP has also given me the title and respect to be able to articulate the evidence I found through my extensive research when I met resistance from some of our pediatric colleagues who have doubts about water birth.”
According to Liz, her degree has also helped her bridge the gap between Certified Nurse-Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM). She has had numerous speaking opportunities with CPM organizations and the American College of Nurse-Midwives, among others.
“I recently had an opportunity to speak at an international conference which was wonderful because I was able to see how our sister midwives in other countries are practicing,” said Liz.
Liz has also published two peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health and published two chapters in books on water birth.
While her expertise is in water birth, Liz’s education has changed her perspective clinically, prompting her to consult the evidence in all aspects of her practice. She shares this with her nurses and takes articles to her colleagues, showing them the latest and greatest practices and encouraging their immediate implementation.
“I think it’s really important that as DNPs, we’re leading the way. We should be taking what research PhDs have put out there and quickly implementing it into practice change. There’s no reason to have a 12 to 15-year gap where the research is sitting on a shelf and not moving into clinical practice.”
Along with her impressive professional accomplishments, one thing Liz loves to do is to mentor DNP students.
“I love mentoring – that’s one of my passions. I feel like it’s my doctoral responsibility to pass on my knowledge and mentor midwives that want to take this skill into practice.”
The FNU family thanks Liz for her service to our country and her dedication to her field!