Gwen Latendresse

Gwen Latendresse has provided many years of direct clinical care, primarily to women and babies, while steadily continuing to advance her education, skills, and knowledge. The importance of continuing education has been reflected in Ms. Latendresse' approach to her own education. Beginning with an Associate Degree in Nursing from Middle Tennessee State University, she has sequentially added to that foundation by obtaining a BSN degree (Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colorado), an MS degree (University of Utah), and on to her current pursuit of a PhD degree (University of Utah). With coursework completed, she's now prepared to progress to candidacy and completion of her research program.

Through many years of active practice as a Certified Nurse-Midwife (which included owning and operating her own private practice), and as a Registered Nurse, Ms. Latendresse has made significant contributions to the health and health care experiences of thousands of women and their families. During those many years, she also contributed to the education of nurses, doctors, and midwives, as an auxiliary and adjunct faculty member. A common thread throughout her career has been her dedication to evidence-based health care, while at the same time empowering women to fully participate in health care decision-making and education.

Completion of the PhD degree will enable Ms. Latendresse to pursue her current professional goals, which include, 1) to continue to contribute to improvements in the health and health care experiences of women and families through well designed and conducted research studies, and 2) to contribute to the quality education of future health care professionals, via academic and clinical settings. Her hope is that we can develop an ability to critically appraise all aspects of our health care education and delivery systems, in order to achieve the improvements that are essential in our rapidly changing world.

Ms. Latendresse' specific research interests include utilization of a psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) approach to evaluate the impact of chronic stress on the health of women. Her doctoral research focuses on psychometric and biologic measures of chronic stress in pregnancy, and associations with pregnancy outcomes, in particular premature birth. Ms. Latendresse was drawn to the fact that the premature birth rate had increased 27% in the last 25 years, in spite of concerted efforts involving interventions and risk assessment. She was compelled by the large body of evidence that chronic stress conditions (poverty, domestic violence, racism, discrimination, lack of health care insurance, depression, anxiety, etc.) contribute significantly to the occurrence of premature birth, thus providing the spark for her passion in the area of PNI.

Ms. Latendresse was the recipient of a University of Utah, College of Nursing Doctoral Fellowship Award during the 2003-2005 academic years. She has authored two articles for the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health. Her presentations at conferences include the impact of chronic stress conditions on the premature birth rate; addressing the gap between evidence and health policy, as well as alternatives to Western birth and medicine, and reclaiming the power of birth.

Ms. Latendresse is also an active member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Western Institute of Nursing. She has served as a member and chair of the State of Utah Certified Nurse-Midwifery Board with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, as a member of the High Risk Pregnancy Standards Committee (National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch), and as a member of the Unintended Pregnancy Task Force, State of Utah Department of Health's Reproductive Program.

Ms. Latendresse looks forward, with enthusiasm, to contributing to the future of health care and our health care professionals.