The restoration and recognition of midwifery as an important component of modern health care, which the WHO now considers essential to achieving improved maternal health and reduced infant mortality worldwide, has been the work of courageous pioneers in many nations. In Canada, Elaine Carty has been instrumental in establishing the evidentiary basis for expanded childbirth services, bringing midwifery into the mainstream, and ensuring that childbearing families have access to safe and effective care. Working as a university-based nurse midwife, Ms. Carty helped erode structural and attitudinal barriers to legitimizing the profession, contributing to the legalization of midwifery in British Columbia in 1998, and serving as founding director of midwifery education at the University of British Columbia. She is known in the province as the “midwife of midwifery” and is widely recognized as a primary leader in creating the scientific foundation for the legislative and regulatory frameworks allowing professional practice of midwifery in Canada today. Establishing free clinics, researching optimal timing of postpartum hospital discharge, organizing collaborative study of safety issues for natural birth and home delivery, including for women with disabilities, and integrating arts and humanities into midwifery curricula, Elaine Carty has helped secure nationwide acceptance of professional midwifery.
2023 INDUCTEE Elaine A. Carty, MSN CNM Patient Care, Women in Medicine, Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy, The Early Days - Health Care Pioneers
October 10, 1944
(Halifax, Nova Scotia)
MSN, Yale University (1968)
Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Yale University (1968)
2022: University of New Brunswick Honorary Doctorate of Letters
2022: UBC Honorary Alumni AwardSee All Awards
Awards & Honours:
2022: University of New Brunswick Honorary Doctorate of Letters
2022: UBC Honorary Alumni Award
2019: UBC School of Nursing Centenary Medal
2018: Alumni Award of Distinction, University New Brunswick
2017: Member Order of Canada
2017: Member Order of British Columbia
2017: Dean’s Medal of Distinction, UBC Applied Science
2013: Honorary Doctorate of Science, McMaster University
2005: Legacy Award for contribution to Midwifery Education, BC Health Association
2005: Honorary Life Membership, Midwives Association of BC
2005: Honorary Registration # 001, College of Midwives of BC
2000: Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (Bellagio Residency)
1997: UBC Killam Teaching Prize
1996: Canadian Nursing Research Group Award for the Promotion of Research Based Practice
1993: Award of Excellence in Nursing, R Nursing Association of BC
1992: Teaching Award, UBC Nursing Undergraduate Society
1990: World Health Organization Fellow (UK Study Tour)
1988: Distinguished Alumnae Award, Yale University
Helped to promote legalization and professional recognition of midwifery throughout Canada.
Lobbied for four decades for the recognition and regulation of midwifery in New Brunswick, Ontario, and British Columbia through consumer organizations, media appearances, conference presentations, a demonstration project, and meetings with nursing, physician and government groups.
Known as an innovative and eﬀective administrator and researcher as the Associate Director of Nursing Undergraduate Programs at UBC and the Founding Director of the Midwifery Program in the Department of Family Practice, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia.
Taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students in the field of maternal child nursing and midwifery over a period of 45 years and honoured with UBC’s major teaching prize.
On the forefront of women’s health care in several identified areas: impact of hospital stay during the antepartum and postpartum periods, disability and pregnancy and parenting, images of women in advertising, and the integration of midwifery into the health care system.
Recipient of numerous awards for practice, teaching, and research, including two honourary doctorates: Order of British Columbia, and Order of Canada
Expanded health care education by incorporating the humanities, particularly art and poetry, in curricula, conference presentations and publications.
Impact on lives today
When Elaine Carty began advocating for recognition and integration of Midwifery in Canada the practice was illegal in all parts of the country. Today, midwifery is recognized and regulated in all Canadian provinces and territories. In British Columbia, more than one third of normal pregnancies and births are now attended by midwives. Many colleagues across the country have contributed to this success, but her leadership over the years has been both inspirational and critical to the successful integration of midwifery into the health care system. Her research and commitment to developing support for parents with disabilities has made successful pregnancy and parenting experiences possible for many who were often neglected in the past.
Elaine Carty inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
Saw the first cohort of midwives graduated and introduced into the BC health care system
Confident that midwifery was now a full part of the system
Elaine Carty began work on integrating the humanities, specifically art and poetry, throughout the midwifery curriculumHealth & Humanities, Women in Medicine
Started continuing series of articles on artists representations of pregnancy and birth in the Canadian Journal of Midwifery Research and Practice
Elaine Carty becomes the founding director of the midwifery program in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC
She negotiated with the University, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education to determine budget, curriculum, admission and progression procedures
Began the Childbearing and Parenting Program for Parents with Disabilities based on research with physiotherapist Dr. Tali Conine
With three midwife colleagues Alison Rice, Tina Tier and Lesley Page, Elaine carty created first in hospital “Hands on Clinic for Nurse Instructors” at Vancouver’s Grace Hospital.
Avoided use of the word midwife to deflect opposition
Moved to British Columbia to take a position at the University of British Columbia School of Nursing
Staﬀ nursing at Kingston General Hospital and teaching at Queen’s University
Worked with other Ontario midwives to lobby the government to establish midwifery legislation
Left Fredericton to study Midwifery at Yale supported by the New Brunswick government
Early exposure to protest and opposition as New Haven, and its hospitals, were enveloped by civil right and anti-Vietnam war riots
Entered the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Nursing
In British Columbia, Elaine Carty is known as “the midwife of midwifery”