Helen Varney Burst, MSN, CNM, DHL (Hon.), FACNM

Helen Varney Burst

Professor Emerita of Nursing

email: helen.burst@yale.edu


Helen Varney Burst is Professor Emerita at YSN. Ms. Burst directed nurse-midwifery education programs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Yale University and served as a consultant to many others. She was co-originator of the mastery learning modular curriculum design for nurse-midwifery education; developed the nurse-midwifery management process and the Circle of Safety; is an Editorial Consultant (history) to the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, is the author of the first textbook for nurse-midwives in the Americas (1980) now in its fifth edition as Varney’s Midwifery, and used in a number of other countries.   

She served the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) in numerous capacities including two terms as President (1977-1979-1981), Secretary (1972-1974), Chair of the Bylaws Committee (1970-1972), Chair of the Work Group on Bylaws Revision (2007-2008), Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on JCAH/DOD, Member and Chair (1975) of the Division of Examiners (1960s-1970s), and as Chair of the Division of Accreditation (most of the 1990s). Ms. Burst has also served as the ACNM representative to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) as well as to many national interdisciplinary and inter-organizational meetings and advisory groups.

Professor Burst received the ACNM Hattie Hemschemeyer Award in 1982, the 50th year of nurse-midwifery education in this country. She was a member of the founding Board of Governors of the Fellows of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (FACNM) in 1993, is a Distinguished Fellow, and served as Chair from 2005-2008.  She is recipient of alumni awards from all her alma maters: Yale University (MSN, 1963); University of Kansas (BSN, 1961); Kansas State University (BSHE, 1961). In 1987 she received a Doctor in Humane Letters (honoris causa) from Georgetown University.

Clinical Practice

Ms. Burst has practiced midwifery in a variety of in-patient and out-patient settings and birth locales, was a nurse-midwifery service director in two medical center tertiary hospitals, and was co-founder and president of the Family Childbirth Center in New Haven, Connecticut.

Selected Publications

Varney, H. and J. B. Thompson. (2016) A History of Midwifery in the United States: The Midwife Said Fear Not.  New York: Springer Publishing Company.  (ACNM Book of the Year Award, 2016)

Varney, H.  (2013) YSN: A Brief History: 1923-2013. Celebrating 90 Years of Excellence. New Haven, CT: Yale University School of Nursing.

Burst, H. V. (2005) The history of nurse-midwifery/midwifery education.  Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 50,129-137.

Varney, H., J.M. Kriebs, C.L. Gegor. (2004).  Varney’s Midwifery, 4th ed.  Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2004.  (AJN Book of the Year Award, 2004)

Burst, H. V. and J. E. Thompson. (2003). Genealogic origins of nurse-midwifery education programs in the United States.  Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. 48, 455-463.

Burst, H. V.  (2000).  The circle of safety: a tool for clinical preceptors.  Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health.  45, 408-410.

Varney, H. (1998). Yale University School of Nursing: A Brief Histoyr:1923-1998. New Haven, CT: Yale University School of Nursing.

Varney, H. (1997). Varney’s Midwifery, 3rd. ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.  (Nurse Practitioner Best Book Award, 1997; ACNM Excellence in Writing Award for Best Book, 1998)

Burst, H. V. (1995). An update on the credentialing of midwives by the ACNM. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 40, 290-296.

Burst, H. V. (1990). “Real” midwifery. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 35, 189-191.

Burst, H. V.(1983). The influence of consumers on the birthing movement. In Strawn, J. (Ed.), Topics in clinical nursing: Rehumanizing the acute care setting (vol. 5, pp. 44-54).

Burst, H. V. (1981). Two roads-which one? Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 26, 7-12.

Burst, H. V.(1980). The American College of Nurse-Midwives: A professional organization. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 25, 4-6.

Varney, H. (1980).  Nurse-Midwifery.  Boston: Blackwell Scientific Publications.  (American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Award, 1981)