Elizabeth Hill-Karbowski, R.N., certified nurse midwife, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – St. Joseph, Milwaukee

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Elizabeth Hill-Karbowski has spent her nursing career caring for women and their families. And as a certified nurse midwife since 1995, she has been dedicated to improving the health and well-being of women and their families. She serves at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare-St. Joseph in Milwaukee, a city that has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation.

Hill-Karbowski is co-director of medical student education at St. Joseph, the first nurse to hold this position. In this role, she teaches, trains and evaluates 28 obstetrics/gynecology residents from the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she is an assistant clinical professor. In 2009, Hill-Karbowski was the first non-physician at the Medical College to receive the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics Excellence in Teaching Awards.

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Through the American College of Nurse Midwives Foundation, she is considered a local and national resource on premature births. As part of the foundation’s collaborative program, Hill-Karbowski teaches other nurses how to evaluate pregnant women for signs and symptoms of preterm labor. Such early intervention helps reduce the odds that the women will deliver babies too early, which improves patient outcomes for mother and child.

She also serves in a work group focused on reducing the rate of births by Caesarean-section surgery. The group’s goal is to educate health care providers about C-section births, vaginal births after C-sections and normal vaginal deliveries and the impact each method of birth has on the health of mothers and their babies. Hill-Karbowski even is working on a dissertation on this topic as part of her doctoral studies at Marquette University.

Judy Maresca, director of Women and Infant Services at Wheaton Franciscan-St. Joseph, describes her colleague “as a dedicated caregiver, highly respected OB/GYN leader and an outstanding educator.”

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“She is dedicated to providing compassionate, high quality OB/GYN services to patients and is committed to training competent future physicians and nurses,” Maresca wrote while nominating Hill-Karbowski as a Health Care Hero.

When asked about her philosophy toward patient care, Hill-Karbowski speaks passionately about the importance of taking care of the entire person.

“With pregnant women, we have to appreciate that what we do, and the spirit in which care is given, will be remembered for a lifetime,” Hill-Karbowski says of the role of certified nurse midwife. “A woman’s childbirth experience profoundly impacts how she feels about herself, impacts how she adapts to motherhood, and can influence her decision-making regarding having more children.”

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