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University of Colorado College of Nursing

College of Nursing

Nicole Carlson: Nurse-Midwife Focuses on Merging Research with Practice

Own childbirth experiences lead to pursuit of an advanced degree

Nicole Carlson

For Nicole Carlson, a nursing student in the PhD program, her own childbirth experiences led her to pursue an advanced degree.

“I was cared for by an amazing group of nurse-midwives.  Soon afterward, I went back to school to become first a nurse, then a nurse-midwife,” she says.

After working as a nurse-midwife for three years, Carlson returned to school to study for her PhD in nursing. That decision was prompted by the disconnect she felt between practice and theory.

“In clinical practice, I was often frustrated by my reliance on an evidence-base that did not ask the kinds of questions that most concern nurses and nurse-midwives,” she says. “I came back to school to work toward asking some of those questions in a research setting.”

Carlson is also the recipient of a National Research Service Award (NRSA) , which is a training grant from the National Institutes of Health, through the Institute of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

“The process of applying for my NRSA was a long and difficult one, with the recent budget crisis at the NIH severely restricting funds.  However, the process forced me to mold my research interests into a new project that really excites me, working with researchers who are passionate about the creation of new knowledge and eager to share their expertise with new researchers.”

Carlson’s research interests center around research and practice that supports the optimal care of women through the process of pregnancy and birth. Specifically, she focuses on the problem of labor dystocia, or slow labor progress, in obese women.

“I very much enjoy diving into the biobehavioral intricacies of labor difficulties among obese women, and pushing to create a new understanding of how best to take care of obese women in labor.  I love the fact that as a PhD student, my work is only limited by my own imagination and energy.”​