From Medical News Today:

The new nurse-midwifery program of Baylor University Louise Herrington School of Nursing has been given initial accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education's Board of Review.

In the accreditation letter to Baylor President Ken Starr, the board praised the Dallas-based school's program and its coordinator - Dr. Mary Ann Faucher, associate professor of nursing - and faculty members "for an excellent program that will make important contributions to the underserved women and their families living in Texas, as well as those served by their mission work."

The program, which began in the 2009-2010 academic year, allows students to progress directly from a bachelor's degree in nursing to a doctorate in nurse-midwifery. The first nurses in the country to finish the program received their degrees in May 2010 from Baylor's Louise Herrington School of Nursing, according to the commission.

Only eight nursing schools in the country offer the DNP in nurse-midwifery program, with Baylor's nursing school the only Texas nursing school to offer it, according to the accreditation commission.

Faucher said she was "extremely pleased and delighted about the notice of accreditation," which did not make recommendations for changes. "We received the maximum allowed, five years, for the first full accreditation.

"The praise in the letter adds additional recognition to the team that worked on this accreditation and verifies the commitment that Baylor has to excellence and hence to the students," Faucher said. "It is certainly nice to receive full accreditation, but the added praise is like getting a 5-star rating."

The degree requires a project applicable to clinical practice rather than a research dissertation.

Nurse-midwifery focuses on births without unnecessary procedures, and studies show births attended by nurse-midwives have fewer health risks for mothers and babies.

A comparison between physicians and nurse-midwives shows that outcomes of normal vaginal births at between 35 and 43 weeks of pregnancy are equal to or better than births attended by physicians. The study was done with adjustments for medical risks and demographics and published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the journal of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

About 80 percent of the country's approximately 11,300 certified nurse-midwives have a master's degree; 5 percent have a doctorate, according to the American Midwifery Certification Board.

The initial accreditation was given after the accreditation commission's Board of Review assessed the program's self-evaluation report, a site visit report and additional material submitted in October 2010.

The maximum length of time allowed for initial accreditation is five years. The next self-evaluation and site visit will be due in fall 2015 for review at the board's meeting in January 2016.

Baylor University