Nominating a legendary midwife for an excellence award

Nominating a Legendary Midwife for an Excellence Award at Women’s Healthcare of Illinois

The Joyce Roberts Excellence in Midwifery Award is given to an Illinois Certified Nurse Midwife. Read our article below to find out about the Midwife.

Nominating a Legendary Midwife for an Excellence Award at Women's Healthcare of Illinois
Nominating a Legendary Midwife for an Excellence Award at Women's Healthcare of Illinois

The Joyce Roberts Excellence in Midwifery Award is given to an Illinois Certified Nurse Midwife who has shown exemplary service to the Nurse Midwifery profession in Illinois. Established in 1999, it was created to honor a CNM hero who exemplifies excellence in practice, education, or research.

This is the nomination letter we submitted earlier this year:

The challenging part of nominating Beth Helme-Smith for the 2020 Joyce Roberts Award for Excellence in Midwifery wasn’t finding people to share their praise – that part was easy. The challenge was keeping this nomination letter from sounding like a gushy love letter from Beth’s fans.

Beth Helme-Smith believes in creating a personal connection with each new family she works with.

Beth Helme-Smith believes in creating a personal connection with each new family she works with.

For starters, Beth (who is pictured above, second from the right, with her outstanding team) is the Director of Midwifery Care for Women’s Healthcare of Illinois (WHC). She has that standard title, however, because “Director of Midwifery Care and Team Education and Advocate for New Moms and Women Everywhere and Consummate Professional Who Leads By Example Every Day While Having the Biggest Heart” didn’t fit on her business card. I know. I tried.

Beth earned her BSN from Loyola and her MS and post master’s certificate from UIC, and she has 25 years of midwifery experience. In addition, she’s a women’s health nurse practitioner and a registered nurse first assistant. She’s also a married mother of two boys and active in church and community events … and from what I’ve heard, she’s beloved everywhere she goes.

Beth is relentless in her pursuit of knowledge, which plays a big role in why she’s such an important part of WHC. In addition to the four midwives, our team includes five doctors of osteopathy with a variety of specialties, and they not only admire and respect Beth, they go to her for advice on countless subjects. She is the driving force behind why our team is so successful at collaborating on strategies that improve outcomes and the patient experience.

She has a penchant for conducting research and using evidence-based methods to convince administrators and staff that policy changes are necessary. Examples include:

  • At St. James Hospital, at just 26 years old, she not only was the first CNM ever hired there, but she boldly petitioned the administration to see the value of midwives and how they could erase the ER no-prenatal-care drop-in rates, increase their OB volume, and improve patient outcomes. She also wrote all of the hospital bylaws allowing APNs to apply for privileges.
  • She headed a small team to establish the St. James Community Healthcare Center to care for underserved pregnant women, effectively decreasing no-PNC rates, decreasing maternal and infant mortality and mobility rates, and increasing healthcare access and knowledge.
  • Beth has been an advocate for the benefits of hydrotherapy and water birth protocols at Amita Health, and hydrotherapy at Advocate South Suburban Hospital and Silver Cross Hospital.
  • She has also been hired to consult at several hospitals in efforts to establish a pathway for CNM services.

At WHC, we offer personalized care for every woman who walks through our doors, and Beth makes sure that happens, just as she has at every stop along her illustrious career.

Adulation from her colleagues

Dr. Kenneth Finkelstein, founder of Women’s Healthcare of Illinois:

“She makes everything better. That’s the best description I can give about Beth as a certified nurse midwife and as a truly special human being. She’s a major reason we’re able to provide such exceptional care to the members of our community. I count on her, day in and day out, and so do our patients. She exceeds expectations every single time.”

Dr. Kathleen Slugocki, a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist who has been with WHC since 2008:

“Beth is a legend. Honestly, before she joined WHC, everyone around here knew about her. We all heard stories about this incredible midwife and how wonderful she is. And then, we get lucky and she joins our team, and you know what? Every story was true. She’s amazing. So smart. She makes us all raise our expectations because she insists on living to a higher standard herself.

Jaclyn Petrov, a certified nurse midwife at WHC:

We love the opportunity to share the values of Midwives with the community …

We love the opportunity to share the values of Midwives with the community … and we never turn down the chance to add some pizzazz!

“Beth is a great midwife not only because of her devotion to the craft, but also because of the plethora of knowledge that she brings to our team. Beth has worked in different environments and has always taken the lead in pioneering new ideas and successful protocols. She is not only in the thick of it all, but she is also paving the way for all those following in her footsteps. She’s been a midwife for more than 20 years, and she’s more enthusiastic than ever about patient care and education and is relentless in her desire to bring new and innovative practices to all communities.”

Shawna Pape, a certified nurse midwife at WHC:

“Beth inherently exemplifies excellence in practice, education, and research. Having worked with Beth for the last three years both as a student and as a new midwife, I have witnessed her strong support for her patients. She also pushes herself and her colleagues to maintain up-to-date, comprehensive practices. Beth requires us to be aware of cutting-edge research to maintain the best possible support and care to our patients. She also believes that supporting CNM students is necessary to grow our profession and support the rapidly increasing need we are seeing in obstetrics. This belief has been put to the test over the past year as Beth placed her belief in three new midwives to open a new midwifery practice in the south suburbs of Chicago. In addition to the trials and tribulations incurred during the first year of practice, Beth has begun work on establishing methods of alternative pain relief at two area hospitals using a combination of research of her own and internationally. As if this isn’t enough, Beth is working closely with our partners at Family First Medical Group to gather information on the current COVID-19 pandemic. Both she and Family First found Dr. David Beckmann are hoping to release their research later this year.”

Tiphne Sharpe, a certified nurse midwife at WHC:

“Beth is kind and caring, always … but I don’t think people realize just how patient she is. She’s so incredibly smart, and takes the necessary time to teach our team every chance she gets. She goes above and beyond the call of duty and is an advocate for each of her patients. They love her … I mean, truly love her. Beth is amazing.

Dr. Steven Daube, DO, a former Friend of Illinois Midwifery Award winner:

“Where do I start? Taking over and resurrecting a venerable midwifery practice in Hinsdale begun by William Shafer M.D. and Nancy Fleming CNM in the late 1970s, Beth and I breathed life into an aging practice and built (with a lot of help) a thriving practice that offered women and their families a full range of options for the birth of their babies. Our approach was to allow women to be a part of the medical decision-making process and empower them to have a sense of autonomy in a very normal process. Beth and I worked side by side for many years. As the practice grew, she was the lead midwife and we created policies of practice that mirrored that mission of allowing women and their families to be partners in the process. Times change, but ideas endure. Empowering women in their endeavor to have the birth experience they desire or guiding them through more challenging clinical scenarios is the goal. Beth Helme-Smith embodies those aims and places her patients foremost in her thoughts and actions.”

Love from her patients

Beth doesn’t like the spotlight. For her, praise isn’t necessary and can be embarrassing. But Beth’s patients never miss an opportunity to shower her with compliments.

We are very active on social media, and whenever we post anything that includes Beth, we get hundreds of responses, most of which look something like these quotes from Facebook:

“This woman is such an inspiration to me.”
“So much love for her.”
“Beth is the most wonderful person.”
“Amazing, heartwarming, and the best midwife.”
“You are the best.”
“You are such a beautiful person inside and out.”

Patients also take the time in person to tell us how much they appreciate Beth’s ability to listen, to understand the patient’s needs, and to make all patients feel like their concerns are always met.

We’re biased, but Beth is the perfect example of “excellent bedside manner.”

Accomplishments and service

Acnm Honors

  • Speaker at 50th Annual ACNM National Meeting
  • Secretary of ACNM Local IV-2 Chapter 2000-2002
  • Appointed ACNM National Practice Standards Committee Member
  • Appointed ACNM National Liability Committee Member
  • Traveling educator for CNM review course

Clinical Preceptor

  • St. Xavier University, 
  • Loyola University
  • University of IL Chicago
  • Lewis University
  • NIU
  • DePaul 
  • Olivet Nazarene University
  • Frontier
  • Chamberlain college

Wrote protocols to create CNM service line

  • St. James Hospital and Healthcare Centers
  • Ingalls Memorial Hospital
  • South Suburban hospital
  • Women’s Healthcare of Illinois

OMG Women’s Healthcare

  • Grew OMG Women’s Healthcare from small single CNM practice to five-CNM practice 
  • First CNM practice in Illinois to employ doulas 
  • Started the first nationally accredited Birth Center in Illinois at LaGRange Memorial Hospital with Dr. Steven Daube
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Waterbirth
  • Twins

Expert Witness for multiple law firms in Chicago and nationally

WHCI accomplishments

  • Advocate South Suburban Hospital
  • Silver Cross Hospital
  • Built a four-CNM service
  • COVID-19 OB protocols
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Nitrous oxide

Created waterbirth and hydrotherapy protocols 

  • Hinsdale Hospital
  • Advocate South Suburban Hospital
  • Participant at Silver Cross Hospital

Nitrous oxide protocols

  • Advocate South Suburban Hospital
  • Silver Cross Hospital

Cord Blood Registry national speaker bureau

In her own words

Prior to telling Beth that I was nominating her for this award, I sat down and simply asked her philosophy on care, and this is what she said:

Dr. Tim Johnson.

Beth is the ideal leader and teammate, especially when the patient is the wife of one of our own providers, Dr. Tim Johnson.

“As you know, I’m super passionate about women’s healthcare. I advocate for appropriate access to care for all women regardless of age, race, sexual orientation, educational status, or financial means. The entire experience – from the initial call or meeting, to how they’re treated when they walk in our doors, to the exam, the front desk staff, and follow-up calls – it all matters. I want to continue to improve that experience for every patient we see. I firmly believe in the mission statement that Steve (Daube) and I created that all women should be empowered to know their healthcare options and that they should then be able to make their own independent educated choices and know that as a provider I am going to advocate on their behalf.”

She then said, “Wait … why are you writing all of this down?”

When I told her about the nomination, she blushed like any legend whose humility is rivaled only by her desire to care for her patients, and said, “That’s not necessary.”

We disagree. It’s not only necessary, it’s deserved.

Thank you considering Beth Helme-Smith for the 2020 Joyce Roberts Award for Excellence in Midwifery.


Beth was awarded the 2020 Joyce Roberts Excellence in Midwifery Award, and, true to her character, was humbled by the recognition.

Upon learning that she had been honored with the award, Beth said, “Our team deserves this because of how dedicated we are to the women in this community.”

Spoken like a true legend.

Ryan Dawson, Marketing and Communications Director


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