"A Labor of Love"

Upon completing Bethel’s nurse-midwifery program, Lisa Brown GS’18, GS’21 helped launch a midwifery practice at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minnesota, bringing a new kind of care to her community.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, GS'21, content specialist

March 02, 2022 | 8:45 a.m.

Lisa Brown, C.N.M.

Lisa Brown is a certified nurse-midwife at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minnesota. Photo courtesy of Lisa Brown.

Lisa Brown is a lifelong learner. She began her nursing career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in 1994. Since then, she’s gone back to school to become a registered nurse (RN), earned her B.S.N., completed her M.S. in Nurse-Midwifery at Bethel, and finally, just this past December, she finished Bethel’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program. “It’s a labor of love,” Brown laughs. “I love it—but it is a lot of labor.”

Brown works as a certified nurse midwife at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minnesota. She was one of the first two midwives on site, as the midwifery practice was launched in 2018, just after she completed her nurse-midwifery degree. Brown had been working as a labor and delivery nurse for Mayo since 2001, but her new role as a midwife represented an opportunity to walk alongside mothers in a new way. 

In the beginning, Brown says, they did a lot of work to educate patients on the function of midwives and the scope of their practice. Even today, they still encounter misconceptions. “A common misunderstanding is that women mainly work with midwives if they’re planning to deliver at home, but our practice works in a clinical setting,” Brown says. “The word midwife simply means ‘with woman’—and we are with women through all stages of their lives, from adolescence through menopause.” 

As a certified nurse midwife, Brown can practice independently, performing her own deliveries, admissions, discharges, prenatal visits, well-woman visits, ultrasounds, and more. But she also works collaboratively with the multidisciplinary team at the clinic. “Midwives need physicians and physicians need midwives,” Brown explains. “Physicians specialize in high risk and complications, which is extremely necessary. But as a midwife, I get to look at you as a whole person because I don’t have those risks that I need to address. I look at you as a mental, physical, spiritual being and ask how this pregnancy affects your life as a whole.”

Brown says that the Christ-centered worldview that she experienced in Bethel’s nurse-midwifery program helped equip her for this holistic approach. It also prepared her for the complexities she encounters when working in women’s health. “It was important to me to be able to look at topics from a Christian perspective, everything from leadership and management to reproductive technology. Faith has a place in all of it,” she says. “And now having a DNP, I am academically prepared to be a change agent. Having the credentials and this academic degree may also earn me a seat at the table where decisions are made.” 

Lisa Brown, Bethel University graduate, with her family

Lisa Brown with her family after commencement for her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

In her role, Brown says, she often encounters women who come from places of hardship, but her Christian perspective provides a framework for her to meet women where they’re at with compassion. “We get to empower these women to become the best versions of themselves,” she says. “The goal is that after these women have met with us, they have hope and they leave feeling better than they did when they came in.”  

Since Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato first started offering midwifery care, the practice has only grown. They began with two midwives and now have three, who together deliver around 60% of the hospital’s babies, according to Brown. “The community has really embraced midwife care,” she says, “and the OB department has also embraced and valued what we bring to the table.” 

Having previously served patients in the Mankato area for many years as a nurse, Brown especially values the opportunity to be a healthcare provider to individuals and families she’s had long standing relationships with. “I’m able to provide care to children or grandchildren of people I have been seeing in the community for so long,” she says. “I can provide what I feel is really high quality, individualized care based on who they are and what they need—and that brings me a lot of joy.” 

Brown considers midwifery a calling; she says it’s not the kind of job that she can punch in, punch out, and then forget about until she comes back. “But it’s something I feel strongly and passionately about,” she says. “I feel that Jesus has a need for me in this community, and that I am part of His plan.” 

Study nurse-midwifery at Bethel.

Through Bethel’s M.S. in Nurse-Midwifery program, you'll develop knowledge, gain experience, and refine your values so you can offer holistic care in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, primary care, prenatal, birth, newborn, and gynecological care.

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