For more than 130 years, Penn Nurses have maintained a legacy of influencing national and global healthcare policy. Heather Bradford, Nu’00, GNu’01, is one such alumna helping to carry this tradition forward.

Heather’s leadership and commitment to advancing the professions of nursing and nurse-midwifery in the eyes of the government and the general public is best reflected in her direct influence on the content of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), which was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010.  Prior to this law, nurse-midwives had for years been handicapped financially by the fact that they could only be reimbursed for Medicare services at a rate of 65% of the amount received by physicians for the same service.  This was important because many non-Medicare insurers often mirror Medicare rates.  Over several years as Chair of the ACNM Government Affairs Committee, Heather led grassroots efforts to move this legislation through Congress and be included in the PPACA.  This provision, effective in January 2011, recognizes the work of certified nurse-midwives nationwide under Medicare equitably as compared to physicians.

Heather has had a career-long interest in research and public policy issues, the roots of which were established while she was at Penn Nursing. She worked as a research assistant for Dr. Bill McCool, and she was chosen by her classmates to be the student representative for the School at the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) Annual Meeting in 2001. In addition, she was a Varney Participant awardee at that meeting, an award given to only two individuals nationwide, and she became the student representative to the ACNM Midwives-Political Action Committee (PAC) Board of Directors.

After representing students nationwide on the Midwives-PAC, Heather continued her activities with the PAC after graduation, and later assumed the Chair role, where she helped reinvigorate the organization, increasing the member donations four-fold in a 3 year span.  She also continued her research with Dr. McCool, and both were awarded the ACNM’s W. Newton Long Award for advancing the nurse-midwifery profession in 2002.  Heather’s passion for the profession also earned her the Kitty Ernst “Whippersnapper” Award by the ACNM, only three years after graduating from Penn’s Nurse-Midwifery Program.

For her many tremendous accomplishments over the course of her career, Heather was inducted in 2011 as a Fellow of the ACNM, the highest honor a nurse-midwife can receive, and in doing so, she became one of the youngest nurse-midwives to ever receive this honor. She has since gone on to receive Penn Nursing’s Lillian Sholtis Brunner Award for Innovative Practice in 2012 and the ACNM’s Public Policy Award in 2013.

Email Heather at