School of Professional Studies

Mary Ellen Doherty, Department of Nursing

Dr. Doherty has been a faculty member at Western Connecticut State University since 2008.  She received a BS degree in Nursing from Mount Saint Mary College, an MSN majoring in Maternal-Child Nursing from Rutgers University, and a PhD in Nursing from the University of Rhode Island.  In addition, she graduated from the nurse-midwifery program at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey and received her certification from the American College of Nurse-Midwives.

Having entered academia in 2000 after many years in clinical practice as a Certified Nurse-Midwife, Maternal-Child Clinical Nurse Specialist, Family Nurse Practitioner, Childbirth Educator, and Expert Witness for the legal system, Dr. Doherty began her teaching career at Northeastern University in Boston.  From 2003-2008, she taught and coordinated all maternal-child health courses at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

In 2008, her family moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut to be closer to the New York metropolitan area for work and family responsibilities.  This move also allowed her to collaborate on several nursing research studies with her twin sister, Dr. Elizabeth Scannell-Desch.

At Western Connecticut State University, Dr. Doherty teaches two courses in the doctoral program:  Qualitative Research Methods and The Faculty Role in Higher Education.  On the masters level, she teaches:  Clinical Foundations of Advanced Nursing Practice and Nursing Research.  In the undergraduate program, she teaches:  Physical Examination and Health Assessment.

Dr. Doherty’s area of clinical expertise is health assessment throughout the lifespan with particular attention to women’s health.  As a certified nurse-midwife, family nurse-practitioner, and maternal-child clinical nurse specialist, she has a wealth of knowledge and experience in providing direct care to families.  She was the President and Founder of Concord Nurse-Midwifery Associates in Concord, MA with admission and delivery privileges at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA.

Dr. Doherty has a very active program of research.  She has received numerous research grants and awards for her work.  Past topics have included:  widowhood during pregnancy, midwifery care, professional midwifery practice, collaborative decision-making, birth plans, therapeutic alliance, nursing in warzones, women’s health and hygiene experiences while deployed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, parent-child separation during wartime deployment, planting the seeds of midwifery in nursing students, and post-traumatic growth in women. In 2012, she co-authored the critically acclaimed book, “Nurses in War:  Voices from Iraq and Afghanistan” which emanated from three of her research studies.  She was the 2012 recipient of the Norton Mezvinsky Award for Excellence in Research given by the Board of Regents of the State of Connecticut and the Connecticut State University System.

Dr. Doherty ‘s second book, “Nurses in War: The Reintegration Experience of Nurses Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan” was be published in 2016.  In addition,  her work has been widely published in professional nursing journals such as: The Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, The Journal of Nursing Scholarship, The Journal of Perinatal Nursing, MCN: The American Journal of Maternal-Child Nursing ,  The International Journal of Childbirth Education, The Journal of Psychosocial Nursing, Nursing for Women’s Health, and Nursing Forum.  She has presented her research throughout the United States and in Ireland, England, Austria, Denmark, Scotland and Canada.  Some of the sponsoring organizations for her research and keynote addresses have been: Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing; Eastern Nursing Research Society, The American College of Nurse-Midwives, The New Jersey Association of Emergency Room Nurses, The American Nurses Association, The Foundation of New York State Nurses, The American Association for the History of Nursing, and The European Nursing History Group.  In addition, she has presented her research findings at a number of colleges, universities, and medical facilities such as:  Mount Saint Mary College, Rutgers University, the University of Rhode Island, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Western Connecticut State University, Duquesne University, Villanova University, the University of Massachusetts Boston, Maria College, Seton Hall University, Thomas Jefferson University, New York University Langone Medical Center,  Saratoga Hospital and Newport Hospital.

Dr. Doherty was promoted to Professor with tenure in 2014.  She is a member of WCSU’s Institutional Review Board which governs all faculty and student research.  She has been thesis advisor to many graduate students and dissertation advisor to numerous doctoral  students in the collaborative EdD. Program between Western Connecticut State University and Southern Connecticut State University. Dr. Doherty’s third book, “Women’s Journeys to Posttraumatic Growth” is scheduled for publication in 2023.

In 2020, Dr. Doherty was selected to become a Fellow in the American College of Nurse-Midwives which is the highest honor bestowed on a nurse-midwife. In 2021, she was chosen as a ‘Luminary’ at the University of Rhode Island where she received her PhD. The College of Nursing at URI selected 75 Luminaries to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

Dr. Doherty loves the fact that she is able to combine teaching, practice, and research in one multifaceted nursing career.  She readily admits that nurse-midwifery was her true calling and considers it a vocation.