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What’s Ahead For Obstetric Care

4 min read


Lynn Erdman, CEO

This post is sponsored by Masimo.

Lynn Erdman took over the chief executive officer role for The Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) at the beginning of the year. Erdman brings more than 30 years of experience including nursing, teaching and leadership positions at organizations including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Surgeons.

She spoke with us about some of the new initiatives for AWHONN and what to expect in the year ahead as they continue their vital work of supporting nurses and women’s health.

Question: How does AWHONN cultivate the next generation of nursing leadership?

Lynn Erdman: Launched in 2007, AWHONN’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) engages nurses in a formal, yearlong leadership training program. Activities include guidance from mentors, networking events, meetings with Members of Congress and their staff, multiple continuing education opportunities, and other experiential training to build confidence and leadership skills among participants.

The program places special emphasis on fostering diversity—in age, race and gender—among leadership prospects. Past emerging leaders have gone on to have leadership roles in AWHONN’s sections and chapters, on AWHONN committees, and even on the Board of Directors. The 2014 Class of Emerging Leaders is comprised of 10 nurses from New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Colorado, Mississippi, California and North Carolina, and was made possible through a one-year educational grant from The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future. We are confident that this year’s class will go on to do great things.

Q: What is AWHONN doing in the area of preterm birth?

LE: AWHONN continues its role as a Prematurity Partner with the March of Dimes, the American College of Ob-Gyns, and other like-minded organizations that are working to reduce the rate of preterm birth. We have a number of clinical resources for nurses on this subject and participate in advocacy activities related to the prevention of preterm birth.

To address the specific needs of late preterm infants – those infants born between 34 weeks, 0 days through 36 weeks, 6 days gestation – AWHONN partnered earlier this year with Louisiana and the Institute for Health Care Improvement to use AWHONN’s Late Preterm Infant Implementation Toolkit with all Medicaid-supported birthing hospitals throughout the state. Oklahoma also began using the Implementation Toolkit though the Office of Perinatal Quality Improvement, which is supported by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the University of Oklahoma Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics. We hope to expand to other states so nurses and other healthcare providers can better care for this vulnerable population of newborns.

Q: What does it mean to “Go the Full 40?”

LE: Several years ago, AWHONN launched its public health campaign “Go the Full 40” in support of spontaneous labor. While birthing one’s baby early may seem tempting in the final weeks of pregnancy, it’s not without risks. Inducing labor is associated with prematurity, cesarean surgery, hemorrhage and infection. AWHONN’s consumer media brand, Healthy Mom&Baby hosts a number of resources that help women understand the importance of waiting for labor to start on its own when all is healthy. Visit: for more information.

Q: What evidenced based resources can we look forward to in 2015?

LE: In 2015, AWHONN will issue two evidenced-based clinical practice guidelines. The first is related to diabetes in pregnancy and will be the first of its kind. The second is a breastfeeding guideline, which revises an existing AWHONN document, and will help nurses support and encourage breastfeeding. In the Unites States, 98% of all births occur in hospitals where nurses are the primary health care providers, supporting women from labor and birth through discharge. Nurses play a vital role in preparing, educating, encouraging, and supporting women to breastfeed and are instrumental in facilitating initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.