Melissa D. Avery, PhD, APRN, CNM, FACNM, FAAN

Professor, Child Family Health Cooperative

Melissa D. Avery

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-624-5933

Fax 612-626-6606

Office Address:
6-125B Weaver-Densford Hall

Mailing Address:
School of Nursing
University of Minnesota
5-140 Weaver-Densford Hall
308 Harvard Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

PhD, University of Minnesota (Nursing), 1993

MSN, University of Kentucky (Nursing/Nurse-Midwifery), 1981

BS, Northern Illinois University (Nursing),1976

RN, Northern Illinois University, 1976


Melissa D. Avery, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, is a Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota. Her current research is examining prenatal care practices to enhance maternal confidence for physiologic labor and birth. She is Co-Principal Investigator on a nationally funded project to develop and implement an interprofessional education curriculum for graduate midwifery students and obstetrics-gynecology residents. Dr. Avery is also midwifery technical lead for midwifery on a USAID funded project supporting Afghan faculty in the health sciences. She is currently a board member and Vice-Chair of the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education and is a past president of the American College of Nurse-Midwives. She is a Fellow in the American College of Nurse-Midwives and the American Academy of Nursing.

Awards & Recognition

  • University of Minnesota, Academy of Distinguished Teachers. 2011.
  • University of Minnesota, Award for Outstanding Contributions to Post baccalaureate, Graduate and Professional Education. 2011.
  • U of MN, School of Nursing, Distinguished Faculty Alumni Award, U of MN School of Nursing Centennial celebration, 2009
  • U of MN, Academic Health Center, Academy of Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Inducted September, 2009.
  • Visiting professor at National Taipei College of Nursing, Taiwan, March 25-April 7, 2001, with consultation visit to Fu-Yin College, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
  • Public Service Award, U of MN, School of Nursing, 1998.
  • University of Minnesota, School of Nursing, Graduate Student Poster Competition
  • Present poster at MNRS meeting, March 1992.
  • Nan Dempster Scholarship, U of MN, School of Nursing, 1988.

Professional Associations

Center Membership:

Professional Associations:

  • American Nurses Association
  • American Academy of Nursing
  • Minnesota Organization of Registered Nurses
  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • MN Affiliate ACNM
  • American Association of Birth Centers


Research Summary/Interests

Increasing women’s confidence for physiologic labor and birth; vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC); exercise in pregnancy; exercise and gestational diabetes; breastfeeding; outcomes of nurse-midwifery care; technology enhanced learning, interprofessional education and practice.

Research Funding Grants

Selected Research and Education Grants:

Title of Project:  National Improvement Challenge, Improving Quality and Safety in Women’s Health Care, Safe Reduction of Primary Cesarean Births
Funding Agency: U of MN Midwifery DNP Program and Ob-Gyn Residency Program 
Role: PI 
Project dates: 9/2018

Title of Project:  Strengthening the Health Care Workforce in Afghanistan: A Kabul Medical University and University of Minnesota Collaborative Workforce Development Project.
Funding Agency: FHI 360 Subaward of USAID grant under the Higher Education Workforce Development Program 
Role: Midwifery Technical Lead 
Project dates: 5/1/2017- 6/01/2019

Title of Project: ACNM-ACOG Maternity Care Education and Practice Redesig
Funding Agency: Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, subcontract with ACN
Role: Co-P
Project dates: February 2017 –2020

Title of Project: Developing confidence for physiologic birth: Women’s perceptions of prenatal influences. Funding transferred from President’s
Multicultural Research Award. 2014-2015. Role: PI
Title of Project: Effect of exercise and wellness interventions on preventing postpartum depression. 
Funding Agency: NIMH, Role: Co-Investigator Project dates: 9/2012 – 9/2016.

Title of Project: Promoting Excellence in APRN Education: A Regional Approach to Quality, Safety and Diversity. 
Funding Agency: HRSA, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing. 
Role: Co-I, Interim PI
Project Dates: 7/2011–6/2015.

Title of Project: Diet and Exercise Intervention to Prevent Gestational Diabetes in Native American Women
Funded under CDC 
Role: Co-Principal Investigator 
Project Dates: 9/2009-2011

Title of Project: Exercise for American Indian Women with Gestational Diabetes: A Pilot Study
Funded under NIH/NINR; P-20 Center for Health Trajectory Research, pilot 
Role: Principal Investigator

Title of Project: Helping Women Achieve Healthy Weight Gain in Pregnancy
Funding Agency: UCare MN 
Role: Co-Investigator 
Project Dates: 7/1/07-6/30/08

Title of Project: Development of an Exercise Intervention for American Indian Women with Gestational Diabetes: A Community-Based Approach
Funding Agency: American College of Nurse Midwives Foundation \
Role: Principal Investigator 
Project Dates: 07/06-12/07

Title of Project: Technology Enhanced Learning in Graduate Education
Funding Agency: DHHS/HRSA 
Role: Director 
Project Dates: 9/1/04-6/30/08

Title of Project: Health Education Priorities: Perspectives from Women's Voices
Funding Agency: UMN Council on Public Engagement (COPE) 
Role: Director, Outreach 
Project Dates: 1/04-12/05

Title of Project: Outcomes of Nurse-Midwifery Care of Women Choosing Vaginal Birth After Previous Cesarean Section: Pilot Study
Funding Agency: American College of Nurse-Midwives Foundation 
Role: Principal Investigator 
Project Dates: 2/02-1/04


Selected Publications:

  • Luyben, A., Barger, M., Avery, M., Bick D. (2018). What is next? Midwifery education building partnerships for tomorrow's maternal and neonatal health care. Midwifery, 64, 132-135.
  • Carrie Neerland, Melissa Avery and Melissa Saftner, Maternal confidence for physiologic birth: Associated prenatal characteristics and outcomes, published in Midwifery, October. 
  • Avery, M. D. Neerland, C., Saftner, M. A. (2018) Preparing for Birth. In Jordan, R.G., Farley, C.L., Grace, K.T. Eds, Prenatal and Postnatal Care: A Woman-Centered Approach. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Anderson, C. & Avery, MD. (2019). Anatomy and Physiology during Labor and Birth. In King, Brucker, Jevitt & Osborne (Eds.) Varney’s Midwifery (6th ed.) Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Lewis, B.A., Schuver, K., Dunsiger, S., Samson, L., Frayeh, A.L., Terrell, C.A., Ciccolo, J.T., & Avery, M.D. (in press). Rationale, design, and baseline data for the Healthy Mom II Trial: A randomized trial examining the efficacy of exercise and wellness interventions for the prevention of postpartum depression. Contemporary Clinical Trials.
  • Avery, M. D. Neerland, C., Saftner, M. A. Women's perceptions of prenatal influences on maternal confidence for physiologic birth. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 2018. Published online ahead of print. DOI: 10.1111/jmwh.12897
  • Lewis, B. A., Djerdigan, D., Schuver, K., Avery, M.D., Marcus, B. The effect of sleep pattern changes on postpartum depressive symptoms. BMC Women's Health 18, 12, 2018.
  • Sommerness, S., Bangdiwala, A., Hirt, C., Gams, B., Rauk, P., Avery, M., Delkoski, S., Miller, K., Landers, D. Birth outcomes after implementing an evidence-based guideline for managing delayed pushing in second stage labor in women with epidural anesthesia. Research on Women’s Health, 1(1), 1-8, 2018   
  • Miller, J., Avery, M., Larson, K., Woll, A., VonAchen, A., Mortenson, A. (2015). Emergency birth hybrid simulation with standardized patients in midwifery education: Implementation and evaluation. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.
  • Lewis, B.A., Schuver, K., Gjerdingen, D., Avery, M., Sirard, J., & Marcus, B.H. (2015). The Relationship between Prenatal Antidepressant Use and the Decision to Breastfeed among Women Enrolled in a Randomized Exercise Intervention Trial. Journal of Human Lactation. 1-6. DOI: 10.1177/0890334415592153.
  • Kozhimannil KB, Attanasio LB, Yang YT, Avery MD, Declercq E. Midwifery care and patient-provider communication in maternity decisions. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2015 Feb 10 doi: 10.1007/s10995 – 015 – 1671 – 8 [Epub ahead of print].
  • King VJ, Fontaine PL, Atwood LA, Powers E, Leeman L, Ecker JL, Avery MD, Sakala C, Campos-Outcalt D, Jeffcott-Pera M, Schoof B. (2015.) Clinical practice guideline executive summary: Labor after cesarean/planned vaginal birth after cesarean. Ann Fam Med, 13(1), 80-81.
  • Avery, M, Saftner, M, Larson, B, Weinfurter, E. (2014). Characteristics of prenatal care to increase maternal confidence for physiologic birth: a systematic review. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.
  • Lewis, B.A., Gjerdingen, D., Avery, M., Sirard, J., Guo, H., Schuver, K. & Marcus, B.H. (2014). A Randomized Trial Examining a Physical Activity Intervention for the Prevention of Postpartum Depression: The Healthy Mom Trial. Mental Health & Physical Activity. 7, 42-49. doi: 10.1016/j.mhpa.2013.11.002
  • Phillipi, J., & Avery, MD. (2014). The 2012 American College of Nurse-Midwives Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice: History and Revision. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 59(1), 82-90.
  • Cook, E., Avery, M., Frisvold, M. (2014). Formulating evidence-based guidelines for CNMs and CMs attending home births. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. 59(2), 153-159.
  • Avery, M.D, Montgomery, O., Brandl-Salutz, E. (2012). Essential components of successful collaborative maternity care models: The ACOG-ACNM project. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, 39, 423-34.
  • Kozhimannil, K.B., Avery, M.D., Terrell, C.A. (2012). Recent trends in clinicians providing care to pregnant women in the United States. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 57: 433-38.
  • Lewis, B.A, Djerdigan, D.K., Avery, M.D., Guo, H., Sirard, J., Bonikowske, A.R., Marcus, B. (2012). Examination of a telephone-based exercise intervention for the prevention of postpartum depression: Design, methodology and baseline data from The Healthy Mom study. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 33, 1150-58.
  • Avery, M., Hamilton-Escoto, K., Gilchrist, L., Peden-McAlpine, C. (2011). Health Education Priorities: Perspectives from Women's Voices. Health Care for Women International, 32, 887-900.
  • Lewis, B.A., Martinson, B., Sherwood, N., Avery, M. (2011). A Pilot Study Evaluating a Telephone-Based Exercise Intervention for Pregnant and Postpartum Women. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 56, 127-31.
  • Avery, M.; Germano, E., Camune, B. (2010). Midwifery practice and nursing regulation: Licensure, accreditation, certification and education. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 55, 411-14.
  • Axtell, S., Avery, M., Westra, B. (2010). Community-University Collaboration to Improve Cultural Competence in a Graduate Nursing Curriculum. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 21, 183-191.
  • Avery, Melissa M.; Cohen, Bradley A.; and Walker, J. D. (2008). Evaluation of an Online Graduate Nursing Curriculum: Examining Standards of Quality, International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship: Vol. 5 : Iss. 1,Article 44.
  • Available at:
  • Pfeiffer, J, Avery, M., Benbenek, M, Prepas, R, Summers, L, Wachdorf, C, O'Boyle, C. (2008). Maternal and Newborn Care During Disasters: Thinking Outside the Hospital Paradigm. Nursing Clinics of North America, 43, 449-467.
  • Lewis, B.A., Avery, M., Jennings, E., Sherwood, N., Martinson, B., and Crain, A. L. (2008). Effect of exercise during pregnancy on maternal and newborn outcomes: Practical implications for practice. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2, 441-455.
  • Anderson, K. & Avery, M. (2008). Faculty teaching time: A comparison of web-based and face-to-face graduate nursing courses. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 2. Available at:
  • Avery, M. & Howe, C. (2007). The DNP and entry into midwifery practice: An analysis. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 52, 14-22.
  • Avery, M. & Baum, K. (2006). Endocrine disorders. In Primary Care for Midwives, Hackley, B. & Kriebs, J. Eds. Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
  • Avery, M. (2005). The history and evolution of the core competencies for basic midwifery practice. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 50(2), 102-107.
  • Avery, M., Carr, C. A., & Burkhardt, P. (2004). Vaginal birth after cesarean section: A pilot study of outcomes in women receiving midwifery care. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 49(2), 113-117.
  • Bata-Jones, B., & Avery, M. (2004). Teaching pharmacology to graduate nursing students: Evaluation and comparison of web-based and face-to-face methods. Journal of Nursing Education, 43(4), 185-189.
  • Avery, M., Ringdahl, D., Juve, C., & Plumbo, P. (2003). The transition to web-based education: Enhancing access to graduate education for women's health providers. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 48(6), 418-425.
  • Carr, C. A., Burkhardt, P., & Avery, M. (2002). Vaginal birth after cesarean birth: A national survey of U.S. midwifery practice. Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, 47(5), 347-352.
  • Avery, M., & Walker, A. (2001). Acute effect of exercise on blood glucose and insulin levels in women with gestational diabetes. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 10, 52-58.
  • Avery, M., Franzich, C.R. & Duckett, L. (2000). The Experience of sexuality during breastfeeding among primiparous women. Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, 45, (3), 227-237.
  • Duckett, L., Henly, S., Avery, M., Potter, S., Hills-Bonczyk, S., Hulden, R., & Savik, K. (1998). A theory of planned behavior-based structural model for breastfeeding. Nursing Research, 47, 325-336.
  • Avery, M., Leon. A.S., Kopher, R.A. (1997). Effect of a partially home-based exercise program for women with gestational diabetes. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 89, 10-15.


Academic Interests and Focus

Nurse-midwifery; Nursing Education; Research


Board Certifications

Certified Nurse Midwife, 1981 - present