Q&A with Maternity Nurse, Cynthia Logsdon interviews Cynthia Logsdon, a professor at the University of Louisville School of Nursing and the Associate Chief of Nursing Research at the University of Louisville Hospital. Her research focus is on maternal mental health, particularly among adolescent mothers. Below she talks about maternity nursing and what you can expect in the role.

Q: What is your current position?

I'm a professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Louisville, and I'm also Associate Chief of Nursing Research at the University of Louisville Hospital. I practice as a women's health nurse practitioner in a private practice one day a week as well.

Q: What is a maternity nurse as opposed to a women's health nurse?

A women's health nurse cares for women throughout the life span whether caring for patients who are ill or doing health promotion. [Maternity nurses care for women during pregnancy as well help new mothers adjust to caring for their newborns, among other duties].

Q: How did you get started in women's health nursing?

From a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a maternity nurse. In high school, I was a candy striper and volunteered at a hospital. I was very impressed with mothering in general and the way mothers nurtured their children. I started college and got a Bachelor of Science in nursing. I volunteered to assist someone who was teaching parenting classes, before ever having my first maternity nursing course. After I graduated college, I went immediately to a master's program in maternity nursing.

Q: What is your average day like at work?

I practice in a number of advanced nursing roles. I serve as a nurse researcher, conducting research with adolescent mothers with symptoms of depression. I also advise other hospital researchers, practice as a women's health nurse practitioner, counsel women on their exercise habits and nutrition, and usually teach as well.

Q: Are there any specific personality traits that work well in this career?

The cool thing about maternity nursing and women's health nursing is it's very diverse and will accommodate all sorts of personality types and education levels. For example, we have neonatal intensive care and labor and delivery, which will appeal to people who like an adrenaline rush and quick-paced nursing. We have prenatal areas which will appeal to nurses that prefer a slower pace and are looking for more of an opportunity to get to know patients. We have in-patient nursing and community nursing as well.

Q: What are some of the challenges in this area of nursing?

I live in a state in which smoking and obesity are problems for the population. We have a higher teen pregnancy rate than usual. We also have an increasing number of immigrant women and due to the economy, a growing number of uninsured or under-insured women. Addressing the needs of all those populations can be a challenge.

Q: What kind of changes have there been in women's health nursing in the last few years?

The physician-nurse relationship is very different than it used to be. The science is different and the way we care for patients is different. We treat women in the hospital for less time than we used to. Everything we need to teach women about self-care and the care of an infant, we must do in a very short period of time. We learn more and more all the time about what we need to do to help women adjust to being mothers.

When I was in nursing school, I remember that premature babies younger than 28 weeks did not live. That is constantly evolving. Premature babies are surviving at a younger age. Some of the same populations, though, continue to be high-risk and at-risk for having premature babies.

We do a better job now with teaching our nursing students how to communicate, so they're not so intimidated when they communicate with other health professionals.

Q: What do you see for the future of women's health nursing?

I think we will develop more and more evidence-based practice guidelines, so that our entire nursing practice will be based upon evidence. We don't just do things because that's the way it's always been done or because it's tradition. It's possible that we'll see evolving roles for nurses. Technology will continue to play an increasing role in nursing as well. Being tech savvy will be important for patient education and care in general.

It will also be important to understand the increasing diversity of the population that we serve. We need to understand the cultural backgrounds and values that people are coming from and embrace that. Those are core values and skills that students will need to bring to the table now, and that will be important for many years to come.

Q: What are the advantages of obtaining a graduate level degree?

There are different opportunities that are available with an advanced degree. I was prepared to teach and to be a maternity clinical nurse specialist. I needed further education and went into a PhD program. It opened a whole new group of opportunities. I was prepared as a nurse researcher. I create the research that evidence based practice can be based on.

Q: Any other recommendations for aspiring women's health nurses?

Look widely. Women's health nursing accommodates most every personality type, and nurses at every stage of the life cycle. There are unlimited opportunities to promote the health of women, children and families.