Dr. Smith is a maternal health systems researcher investigating the influence of the care delivery system on quality of care, including equitable care, overuse of cesarean birth and support for physiologic birth. Topics of interest include hospital birth culture, teamwork, interprofessional collaboration, and adoption of the midwifery model of care. Her doctoral research measured midwife-physician interprofessional collaboration in the military health system. Recently, she and fellow researchers completed a high-profile project examining the outcomes of care of midwife-physician interprofessional teams, particularly on cesarean birth utilization. Our growing team of midwifery and maternity care systems investigators at CU employ electronic health record data, survey research, quality measurement, and instrument development and testing to conduct investigations related to optimal and equitable care.
Dr. Smith was previously the Specialty Director for the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at CU. After completing her PhD at the University of Colorado in 2015, she joined the faculty in 2016. As a midwife, she has spent the majority of her career in the Military Health System. An active duty Army Nurse Corps officer, she had assignments at Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis McCord, Washington, and CR Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas. After separating from the Army, she worked as a government civilian at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Virginia, and as a Navy Nurse Corps Reservist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. As the Specialty Director for the Nurse-Midwifery program, Denise revised the curriculum to improve accessibility to the program across the state and region through hybrid-online teaching modalities.
She practices full-scope midwifery with the University Nurse Midwives, including teaching students in the clinical setting.
Originally from a small town in north central Illinois, Denise and her family have moved all over the United States in support of her husband, Chris, also a military service member.