October 10, 1944

(Halifax, Nova Scotia)


MSN, Yale University (1968) 

Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Yale University (1968) 

Awards & Honours:

2022: University of New Brunswick Honorary Doctorate of Letters

2022: UBC Honorary Alumni Award

See All Awards
elaine carty

Helped to promote legalization and professional recognition of midwifery throughout Canada.

resized sketch elaine carty

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.

Key Facts

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.

Professional timeline

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 UBC Nursin


  • Carty induction

    Elaine Carty inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

  • Retirement Carty

    Elaine Carty is called out of retirement to resume the Directorship of UBC program to oversee the first expansion of the program.

    Leadership in Organizational Development, Women in Medicine

  • First grads

    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 curriculum

    Health & 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

  • Founding director Carty

    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

  • BC legislated midwifery as part of the health care system

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy, Women in Medicine

    Began research on the experience of midwives as they entered into the health care system

  • Support Carty

    Began the Childbearing and Parenting Program for Parents with Disabilities based on research with physiotherapist Dr. Tali Conine

  • LTEA

    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

  • Elaine Carty receives Health Canada funding to explore the development of a midwife-led, out of hospital birth centre

    Women in Medicine, Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

    Opposition by some local physicians kills project

  • 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

  • Carty smaller

    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

  • Carty UNB

    Entered the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Nursing


In British Columbia, Elaine Carty is known as “the midwife of midwifery”