MW509 History of Healthcare (3 Credits) Course Description

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Sample NCM PhD Course Syllabus Revision 06/2015


MW509 History of Healthcare

(3 Credits)
Course Description: This course will inform the student about the history of midwifery and medicine from ancient times, focusing on biography to illustrate contributions to progress in healthcare.
Course Objectives: Upon course completion the student will be able to:


  1. Describe the major developments in healthcare through the contributions made by doctors and midwives

  2. Recognize the individuals who made the greatest contributions.

  3. Recognize the contributions of the humblest health care workers

  4. Incorporate understanding of the history of healthcare into a special project



Course Requirements:
1. Lectures and Reflections:

Doctors: The History of Scientific Medicine Revealed Through Biography, Sherwin B Nuland, MD, Yale School of Medicine, teaching at Yale School of Medicine. Listen to all 12 lectures. As you listen take notes of your thoughts as you go along and you will have a good start on your academic paper.

2. Readings:

In addition to the lectures, the student is expected to read 1500 pages from the course bibliography or preceptor approved books. The 1500 pages of reading are to be taken from the Bibliography below. For each book you read you will list the author, book name, place of publication, publisher, year, pages read, and one paragraph annotation describing the book.

3. Academic Paper: The student will write a 10-12 page research paper with a bibliography. The research for this paper should come from the lectures and the readings in the bibliography, and any other sources that shed light on the chosen topic. This paper should not be a personal reflection, but report on the research that has been done in this area. Focus on a geographical area of interest, reflecting on the impact the subject has had on your chosen area. Choose one from the following:

a. The history of the Apgar Score

b. The history of childbed fever

c. The history of the struggle of midwives for recognition as part of the health care team in either your local area, state, country or the world

d. The history of cesarean operations

e. The history of pain relief in childbirth

f. The history of the development of direct-entry and nursing-entry midwifery

g. The history of artificial baby feeding practices


The following will be the criteria your preceptor will utilize to evaluate your work:

  1. Did the student choose an appropriate topic?

  2. Did the student research the topic widely?

  3. Did the student consider varying positions within the scholarship?

  4. Was the student accurate in the analysis of the research?

  5. Did the student discern points of similarity within the research?

  6. How did the student handle positions they disagreed with?

  7. Did the student avoid filling the paper with personal opinion?

  8. Was the student clear in the presentation?
  9. Did the student utilize appropriate grammar, spelling, etc, for graduate work?


  10. Are you more or less interested in the topic having read the student’s paper?

4. Special Project: The student shall undertake a special project. Choose one from the list below, or the student may develop one, subject to the preceptor’s approval:

a. Conduct an oral history with an elder midwife. Write a 3 page reflection on how this experience made an impact on you.

b. If you are artistically inclined, produce an biography of a midwife in your area using the arts, telling the story in pictures, song, artwork, photos, etc.

c. Produce an illustrated timeline of the history of midwifery

d. Write your own autobiography as a midwife, 3 pages, on the historically significant events in your career.



Course Grading:


  1. Lectures and Reflections 25%

  2. Readings 25%

  3. Academic Paper 35%

  4. Special Project 15%

Total: 100%
Bibliography: Choose the remainder of your 1500 pages from this list:
Rooks, Judith, Midwifery and Childbirth, Temple University Press, 1999
Nuland, Sherwin, The Doctor’s Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignaz Semmelweis, W.W. Norton and Company, 2004
Wertz, Dorothy, Lying-in: A History of Childbirth In America, Yale University Press, 1989

Buss, Fran, La Partera: Story of a Midwife, University of Michigan Press, 2001

Davis-Floyd, Robbie, Birth Models That Work, University of California Press, 2009

Reynalde, Thomas, (author), Hobbe, Elaine (editor), The Birth of Mankind; Otherwise Named, The Woman’s Book, Newly Set Forth, Corrected, and Augmented. Whose Contents Ye May Read, in the Table of the Book,…and Scientific Cultures of Early Modernity, Ashgate Publishing Company, 2009
Edwards, Margot, Reclaiming Birth; History and Heroines of American Childbirth Reform, Crossing Press, 1984
Wagner, Marsden, Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First, University of California Press, 2008
Shoemaker, Mary, History of Nurse Midwifery In The United States, Kessinger Publishing, 2007
Gelbart, Nina, The King’s Midwife: A History and Mystery of Madame du Coudray, University of California Press, 1999
Wertz, Dorothy, Lying-in: A History of Childbirth In America, Yale University Press, 1989
Johnson, Christine, and Davis-Floyd, Robbie, Mainstreaming Midwives: The Politics of Change, Routledge, 2006
Chester, Penfield, Sisters On a Journey, Rutgers University Press, 1997
McGregor, Deborah, From Midwives to Medicine; The Birth of American Gynecology, Rutgers University Press, l998
Buss, Fran, La Partera: Story of a Midwife, University of Michigan Press, 2001
Smith, Margaret, Listen to Me Good: The Story of An Alabama Midwife, Ohio State University Press, 1996

Holloway, Kris, Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years With a Midwife in Maui, Waveland Press, 2006

Logan, Oni Lee, as told to Katherine Clark, Motherwit; An Alabama Midwife’s Story, Plume, 1991
Bovard, Wendy, Why Not Me? The Story of Gladys Milton, Midwife, Book Publishing Company (TN) 1993
Smith, Karen, Orlean Puckett: The Life of a Mountain Midwife, 1844 to 1939, Parkway Publishers, 2003
Armstrong, Penny, and Feldman, Sheryl, A Midwife’s Story, Pinter and Martin LTD, 2007
Harmon, Patricia, The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir, Beacon Press, 2008
Gaskin, Ina Mae, Spiritual Midwifery, Book Publishing Company, TN, 2002
Baumslag, Naomi and Michaels, Dia, Milk, Money and Madness: The Culture and Politics of Breastfeeding, Praeger, 2008
Palmer, Gabriel, The Politics of Breastfeeding, 3rd Edition: When Breasts are Bad for Business, Pinter and Martin, LTD, 2009
Hausman, Bernice, Mother’s Milk: Breastfeeding Controversies in American Culture, Routledge, 2003
Apel, Melanie, Virginia Apgar: Innovative Female Physician and Inventor of the Apgar Score, Rosen Publishing Group, 2003
Apgar, Virginia, Is My Baby Alright?, Trident Press 1972

Nuland, Sherwin, The Doctor’s Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever, and the Strange Story of Ignaz Semmelweis, W.W. Norton and Company, 2004

Carter, K. Codell and Carter, Barbara, Childbed Fever: A Scientific Biography of Ignaz Semmelweis, Transaction Publishers, 2005
Sewell, Jane, Cesarean Section: A Brief History: A Brochure to accompany an exhibition on the history of cesarean section at the National Library of Medicine, ACOG, 1993
Marland, Hilary, Midwives, Society and Childbirth: Debates and Controversies in the Modern Period (Studies in the Social History of Medicine) Routledge, 1997
Davis-Floyd, Robbie, Childbirth and Authoritative Knowledge: Cross-Cultural Perspectives, University of California Press, 1997
Lawless, Jo, Reading Birth and Death: A History of Obstetric Thinking, Indiana University Press, 1999
Tritten, Jan, Paths to Becoming a Midwife: Getting an Education, Midwifery Today, 2002


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