Mary Breckinridge (1881-1965) 1982 Inductee

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Mary Breckinridge
ANA Hall of Fame Inductee

Mary Breckinridge introduced a model rural health care system into the United States in 1925. To provide professional services to neglected people of a thousand square mile area in southeastern Kentucky, she created a decentralized system of nurse-midwives, district nursing centers, and hospital facilities. Originally called the Kentucky Committee for Mothers and Babies, later the Frontier Nursing Service (FNS), the system lowered the rate of death in childbirth in Leslie County, Kentucky, from the highest in the nation to substantially below the national average. Thanks to FNS, nurse-midwives were no more than six miles away from any patients. Providing both preventive and curative nursing, FNS continues to serve this region. Staff members of the FNS formed the beginnings of the American College of Nurse-Midwives in 1929. The first school of midwifery was started at the Maternity Center in New York in 1932 by a FNS-certified nurse-midwife member. The FNS began its own school in 1939.