Native American Midwife Student Awarded 2nd Annual NCAI Graduate Health Fellowship

Published on Apr 30, 2013

Nurse-Midwifery Student Brittany Simplicio (Navajo) Receives Award

NCAI announced Nurse-Midwifery Student Brittany Simplicio (Navajo) of Albuquerque, New Mexico, as its second annual Native Graduate Health Fellowship recipient.

Washington, D.C.—NCAI has announced Brittany Simplicio of Albuquerque, New Mexico, as its second annual Native Graduate Health Fellowship recipient. Ms. Simplicio is a Navajo nurse-midwifery student at the University of New Mexico, where she is working to revive traditional Native childbirth practices. Upon graduation, she will be only the eleventh Native nurse-midwife in the United States. The Fellowship will include both a financial award of $5,000 and professional development in tribal health policy.

“Healthy Native children and families are essential to strong tribal nations,” said NCAI President Jefferson Keel. “We commend Ms. Simplicio for her commitment to strengthening the health of our nations’ youngest members and their mothers, and we look forward to assisting her in her professional development and her ongoing efforts to improve Native health as a nurse-midwife.”

Throughout her Master’s program, Ms. Simplicio has been devoted to serving Native communities. Her clinical rotations have largely been on the Navajo Nation, both at the Northern New Mexico Medical Center in Shiprock, New Mexico, and the Tsehootsooi Medical Center in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Together with her mentor, Nicolle Gonzales, she is also spearheading efforts to establish a sustainable birth center in northern New Mexico that would serve Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache families and bring a traditional birth option back to the Native community. In addition, Ms. Simplicio mentors diverse high school students in preparing for higher education as a tutor at the College Enrichment and Outreach for College Readiness Program.

In its second year, NCAI's Native Graduate Health Fellowship is a part of NCAI's commitment to equipping the next generation of Native leaders. NCAI received nearly 40 applications from students representing 18 tribes. A review committee comprised of NCAI staff and key leaders in Native health selected the Fellow, as well as two finalists, on the basis of demonstrated commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native health, academic achievement, and community leadership. The program aims to build a pipeline of Native health professionals who can support tribal sovereignty and who are prepared to lead in promoting health policies and practices that address the unique needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

NCAI deeply appreciates the generous support of Robert Burnette and the Seventh Day Adventist Church in helping to sustain the fellowship. The Klamath Tribes, the Kiowa Tribe, the Ketchikan Indian Community, and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe also pledged a combined $4,000 to help sustain the Fellowship’s endowment. NCAI is planning to expand this Fellowship into other high-need areas in Indian Country, such as education and economic development. For more information about supporting the Fellowship, contact Peter Morris at (202) 466-7767 or

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