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  • Helen Varney Burst CNM, MSN, DHL (Hon.), FACNM

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    • Helen Varney Burst is a 1963 graduate of the Yale University School of Nursing Nurse-Midwifery Program. She teaches a historical research seminar and advises historical theses at Yale University School of Nursing. This past year, she wrote the 75-year history of the Yale University School of Nursing. Ms. Burst is keenly interested in the history of nurse-midwifery and frequently speaks and writes on the subject.

  • Nurse-midwives who practiced within the context of public health nursing in the provision of primary care for the whole family were the exception to the more narrow 1962 definition of practice.

  • Information in this and the following five paragraphs obtained from personal communication with Shirley Okrent, July 29, 1997.

Helen Varney Burst, CNM, Professor, Nurse-Midwifery Program, Yale University School of Nursing, 100 Church Street South, New Haven, CT 06536.


From the maternity cycle to the primary health care of women, this article traces the expansion of the role of midwives in reproductive health care over the past 3 decades. Included are the recollections of Shirley Okrent about the early development of this role expansion and a few of the author's personal memories.