Denise Smith

Denise Smith PhD, CNM, FACNM

Assistant Professor
  • Center for Midwifery
  • College of Nursing
  • CFM - University Nurse-Midwives


Primary Phone:303-724-8533

Mailing Address:
  • CU Anschutz

Education II North

13120 East 19th Avenue

Aurora, CO 80045

Why CU Nursing? Assistant Professor Denise Smith, PhD

Dr. Smith is a midwife and maternal health systems and policy 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. A key component of this work is implementation of person-centered models of maternity care and integration of midwives as primary maternity care providers (i.e., midwifery-led care). Her research portfolio includes studies on midwife-physician interprofessional collaboration, midwife-physician interprofessional teams and cesarean birth utilization, and respectful maternity care. The team of midwifery and maternal health systems investigators at CU employ electronic health record data, survey, and focus group research, and instrument development and testing to conduct investigations related to optimal and equitable care. Dr. Smith's publications on outcomes of midwifery care and interprofessional teams have been cited in national policy statements and widely distributed guides on midwifery integration and team-based care.

Much of Dr. Smith's work supports the scaling up of midwifery care. Currently, she is the Project Director of the Colorado Midwifery Workforce Expansion Program, funded by the Health Services and Resources Administration (MatCare 23-120) to train midwives for rural midwifery practice and address barriers to rural maternity care access. In 2023, Dr. Smith was instrumental in the policy work to license Certified Midwives in the State of Colorado (SB 23-167). Certified Midwives, like Certified Nurse-Midwives, are graduate-prepared midwives certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board to independently provide pregnancy, gynecologic, family planning, and primary care to women, and care of well newborns in the first 28 days of life.

Dr. Smith was the Specialty Director for the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at CU from 2016 to 2020. 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 started her clinical career as a labor and delivery nurse in a rural critical access hospital. Her early career as a midwife began in the Military Health System. A Veteran of the Army Nurse Corps, she had assignments at Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis McCord, Washington, and CR Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas; as a government civilian (GS) at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Virginia; and as a Navy Nurse Corps Reservist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Dr. Smith practices full-scope midwifery with the University Nurse Midwives, including teaching students in the clinical setting. She teaches in the midwifery program, and in the PhD program, Health Care Systems and Policy track she teaches NURS 7730 Health Care Systems II: Changing Health Care Delivery Systems. She is the recipient of multiple teaching awards.

Originally from a small town in rural, 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.

View her work:

Areas of Expertise

  • Maternal health policy
  • Health Systems Research
  • Interprofessional Collaboration and Teamwork
  • Quality Measurement

Education, Licensure & Certifications

  • PhD, University of Colorado, 2015
  • MSN, East Carolina University, Nurse-Midwifery, 2007
  • BSN, Georgia Southern University, 1997

CMS Login