Ellen French, DNP '21, Natalie Van Houten, DNP '21, 2021 Ridgway Scholars

Ellen French, DNP-CNM '21

Headshot of Ellen French DNP-CNM student

Project: Helping the Helpers: Assessing Support Needs and Strengths Among Community Doulas

“I have been able to pursue an area and method of research that is tied to my personal mission and that I see as meaningful. And I will absolutely carry the lessons and community that I have gained throughout this experience for the rest of my life.”

How is this scholarship impacting your education?

This funding is helping deepen the impact and equity of my research. I am able to pay my participants, who are all women of color, at an equitable rate for their time, and I am able to produce my research in an efficient and sustainable way (by reducing my hours of labor through using technology for transcription and paying for quality printing and presentation materials). Lastly, this will help reduce the burden of student loans after graduation, hopefully allowing me to have more freedom in career location so I am able to work in positions that are committed to social justice, rather than just positions that are able to pay enough for my loans.

What do you hope to accomplish at Seattle U and beyond?

In my last months at SU, I hope to finish out my research project and explore possibly publishing the findings, as well as prepare myself for graduation and certification exams. Beyond graduation, I hope to continue my work on equity and social justice through my volunteering with my professional organization (ACNM), my mentorship of underclassmen, my work with Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health, and of course by using midwifery itself as a tool for intergenerational healing in my professional life.

Why did you choose Seattle U to pursue your education? What influenced your choice of study?

SU was my top choice of schools because of their stated commitment to social justice. I have met an amazing cohort of likeminded midwives who see our profession to make positive change in the world through acts of service. I have had wonderfully supportive and challenging clinical experiences that have helped me grow spiritually in addition to my academic and clinical skills. I have been able to pursue an area and method of research that is tied to my personal mission and that I see as meaningful. And I will absolutely carry the lessons and community that I have gained throughout this experience for the rest of my life.

Read more about French’s project.

Natalie Van Houten, DNP-CNM '21

Headshot of Natalie Van Houten, DNP-CNM student

Project: Screen Where the People Are: Using Self-Collected Primary HPV Testing in Day Shelters to Increase Cervical Cancer Screening Rates in Homeless Women

“I chose Seattle U because of the mission focused education. I believe that nursing and midwifery is an integral part of working toward a more just world. It is a holistic model of care that extends beyond the clinic or hospital visit and inquiries about our patients’ entire wellbeing.”

How is this scholarship impacting your education?

I am currently paying for my education entirely through student loans and part time nursing jobs. This scholarship allows me to work fewer hours this quarter and spend more time on my DNP project, piloting a community-based HPV testing program to screen for cervical cancer in women experiencing houselessness. I plan to spend my nursing and midwifery career working in underserved and rural communities. I am fully aware that this may mean that I take lower paying positions than I could find in more well-resourced areas. This does not bother me, but I am conscious of the fact that my student loans will likely be a burden for a large portion of my life. I plan to apply for loan forgiveness programs in the future, but any amount of financial support I receive during school better equips me to do the work I am most passionate about for the rest of my life.

What do you hope to accomplish at Seattle U and beyond?

While at Seattle U I have had the pleasure of working with and later acting as president of our school’s chapter of Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health (NSRH). During my work with NSRH we have hosted speakers, panels, and workshops on a wide variety of reproductive health care. Outside of Seattle U, I currently serve as the Legislative Committee Student Chair for the American College of Nurse Midwives Washington Affiliate. In this committee, we organize midwives to advocate at the local, state, and federal levels for policy that is beneficial for our patients and our profession. Beyond graduation, my upbringing in rural Maine compels me to serve and live in a rural community after I complete my training. Through my adolescence, I have seen the difference one provider can make in a small town. It is my dream to be such a resource, providing primary and reproductive care to rural and low-income women with dignity, compassion, and respect. Small towns and rural communities can only function if their members work to care for and support one another. I look forward to serving and building up my community and ultimately educating other nurses to do the same.

Why did you choose Seattle U to pursue your education? What influenced your choice of study?

I chose Seattle U because of the mission focused education. I believe that nursing and midwifery is an integral part of working toward a more just world. It is a holistic model of care that extends beyond the clinic or hospital visit and inquiries about our patients’ entire wellbeing. Questions of social support, affordable housing, and paid family and sick leave all impact a person’s health and wellness and therefore are of great importance in nursing and midwifery care. This broad definition of health care is what drives me to nursing and midwifery. I want to both advocate for my patients and encourage them to advocate for themselves to work toward these goals. I want my patients to feel in control of their bodies and circumstances and empowered in their care. Beyond my commitment to the wellbeing of all people, I am committed to exceptional care for women, especially women of color, women in poverty, and women with disabilities. Because of structural inequality in our society, it is often harder for women to access the care they deserve, especially when it comes to reproductive health. I am committed to providing women with compassionate reproductive care that allows them dignity and agency.

Read more about Van Houten’s project.