Nurse Midwife Profile – Eileen Ehudin Beard, CNM, FNP, MS
Diploma in nursing from Union Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, 1969
Midwifery certificate from SUNY Downstate, 1977
Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College, 2001
Master’s in Nursing and completion of Family Nurse Practitioner from SUNY Stony Brook, 2003
The best piece of advice Eileen Beard got was to follow her dream and move forward on it. She was a mother to two young children when she decided to do just that and study to become a midwife. After working in a hospital setting for several years, she opened her own birthing clinic in 1981, the first of its kind in Maryland. She was director of the center for nearly 30 years until it closed, at which point she moved into private practice as a family nurse practitioner. Four years ago she returned to her roots and currently works for the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) as the senior practice advisor. She also teaches courses in family nursing and chronic disease for the University of Phoenix.
Question: What drew you to midwifery?
Beard: "For me, midwifery was a calling. I was actually interested in birth since I was a little girl. I always wanted to be a midwife, it was my dream. Being with women at birth, it’s really an honor. What could be more wonderful or special than to help make that a beautiful experience for them? In this country and in many places, birth has become very ‘medicalized’, and midwives recognize birth as a normal physiological process. Anything I could do to help that process, to help women to have a normal, physiological birth was just a dream I had. It always seemed to me, even before I knew a lot about it, that birth was a normal process that should not have a lot of intervention. I’ve just intuitively always felt that."
Question: What did you enjoy about midwifery and your practice?
Beard: "When I opened my birthing center, I looked around and saw that there not a lot of options for women. People traveled very far to come to my facility so that they could have a normal, physiological birth. I guess every time someone came and they were able to have the birth experience they wanted, whatever it was, that was enough to make it very worthwhile."
Question: What advice do you have for people just starting their education or their professional career and want to be a nurse midwife?
Beard: "If that’s what they really want to do, they should really follow their dream. Even if it’s hard work, I think they’ll find it rewarding. It’s also good to do things as you’re working towards your goal that are involved with working with women, such as being a doula, working in a labor and delivery area, assisting with breastfeeding. You can call ACNM. I’m always happy to talk to people about becoming a midwife. You can call our education policy advisor, too. You can attend our annual meeting and surround yourself with education and talk to other midwives. There are a lot of options in terms of education programs, such as distance learning programs, so really look at all the different educational programs and find the one that you think will best suit you."