Our Nurses of the Week are the student nurses of the University of Pennsylvania Nurse-Midwifery program who have created a scholarship for midwives of color. Each class of the program delivers a class gift to their professors prior to graduation like artwork or a charity donation, but the Class of 2017 decided to try something unconventional.

The students reported that their inspiration came from looking around their own classroom and realizing that only two students out of the 21 person class were students of color. Nursing graduate Kateryn Nunez, one of the two students of color in her graduating class, tells TheDP.com, “The point of the scholarship is to address the fact that over 95 percent of midwives in the US are white, whereas the people they care for, the majority are people of color, are poor people, are immigrants, LGBTQ.”

Midwives provide a personalized approach to childbirth for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. This was originally a common practice among black and immigrant populations but a stigma around home births discouraged people from communities of color from going into the field. As the “natural birth” movement gained popularity in recent decades, it created a racial imbalance in the profession that still exists today.

One of the largest barriers to entry for students of color to become midwives is affordability, which is why the 2017 Penn Nurse-Midwife class decided to create their scholarship. They have raised over $11,000 through grassroots fundraising from friends and family but have a total goal of $125,000. If they reach their goal, Penn will contribute an additional $25,000.

These students hope that their efforts will send a message to other universities about the importance of their scholarship. To learn more about Penn’s Nurse-Midwife program, visit here.

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