Solving the shortage of women’s health care providers in the US is a daunting task that will involve coordinating stakeholders from every level of the medical community. There are few people in the world today who understand this complex issue as well as Ginger Breedlove, PhD, CNM, APRN, FACNM.
For more than 40 years (35 as a Certified Nurse-Midwife), Ginger has worked to advance women’s reproductive health. She began her career in the late 1970’s working as a scrub-tech then charge nurse in Labor and Delivery at a community hospital in Topeka, KS. There she witnessed firsthand how healthcare systems could empower women and families, as well as where they fell short.
It was her desire to remedy these shortcomings that led Ginger to author and lead revisions of regulations for birth centers in Kansas in 1979. Shortly after, Ginger helped found the first freestanding birth center in the state of Kansas.
“Her intelligence is incredible. If she has a question, she does not stop until she has a full answer for whatever that question is. She has an undying support for normal pregnancy and for women, babies, and families,” said Judie Wika, Assistant Professor, Shenandoah University. “I think she really has a goal of helping women truly understand themselves, their bodies, and if they choose to have a baby, feel empowered to find out everything they can, with good evidence, on how to take care of themselves, what to expect, and what they can ask for in terms of what they want for their experience.”
Continuing to be a pioneer in the field of women’s reproductive health, Ginger went on to found the first hospital-based nurse-midwifery practice based at St. Luke’s Hospital in KC, MO from 1994 – 2000. In 1998, Ginger became the founding Program Director for the University of Kansas graduate nurse-midwifery speciality track.
Ginger has spent more than 17 years as an educator at the graduate and doctoral level. Most recently, she served as faculty in the Nurse Midwifery Program at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA. During her time in academia, Ginger has authored and been awarded more than $5 million in state, federal, and philanthropic grants.
As President of the American College of Nurse-Midwives from 2013-2016, Ginger rose to further national and international prominence for her work in advancing women’s reproductive health. During this time, she spoke to thousands of doctors, hospital administrators, midwives, and families, becoming one of the leading voices calling attention to the women’s health care provider shortage facing the US. A highlight was being asked in Dec. 2015 to testify before the US House Commerce and Energy Commission on expanding the Health Care Provider Shortage program by designating a new definition of maternity care shortage areas, facilitating placement of physicians and midwives to serve in areas of high need for maternity services.
Despite her intimidating resume and reputation in the field of women’s reproductive health, Ginger’s colleagues are quick to point out that a defining part of her personality is the respect and dignity she has for everyone she meets.
“When you get so involved on a national level and you become the president of an association like that, some people would have an attitude that would separate them from a lot of people, and she does not have that,” said Cathy Fulea, Past VP of American College of Nurse-Midwives and Service Director at Henry Ford Health System Nurse Midwifery Group. “I know Ginger would frequently say to people when meeting them for the first time, especially when she was President, people would be a little bit star-struck or awe-struck, and she would say, ‘I’m just Ginger.’ It dropped the degree. It dropped the pretense and she can really meet people on a personal level.”
For her whole adult life, Ginger has been on the caring side of the workforce. As Grow Midwives’ Principal Consultant, Ginger carefully navigates clients through the realities of implementing a collaborative care team with midwives playing a critical role.