Photo of Maria Healy

Maria Healy


  • Room 05.327 - Medical Biology Centre

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Dr Healy is open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Promoting physiological birth and positive birth experiences - Implementation of guidelines for the provision of midwife-led care -Understanding women and health care providers experience of care


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

In September 2016, Dr Maria Healy joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast as a Lecturer in Midwifery (Education).  Prior to this appointment, Maria was the Head of Midwifery at University College Dublin (UCD), School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Systems.  She joined UCD in 2000, where she was the midwifery team leader, undergraduate programme director, graduate module lead, researcher and supervisor, with a record of shaping the direction of midwifery education, continual enhancement of student learning opportunities and international and national networking, including student and staff recruitment.

Maria was awarded PG Dip., MSc, Higher Diploma in Nursing/Midwifery education and a PhD in Midwifery supervised by Professor Soo Downe. Graduating from Ulster University, University College Dublin and with a PhD from University of Central Lancashire entitled: ‘Rethinking postnatal care: A Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenological study of postnatal care in Ireland’.  She is a Registered Midwife (RM), Registered General Nurse (RGN) and Teacher (TCH) and has extensive experience in midwifery practice and midwife-led care.

Since taking up the position at Queen’s University Belfast, Maria has undertaken several midwifery education, research and citizenship leadership roles including programme lead for the BSc (HONS) Midwifery Sciences programme, final year lead, module co-ordinator, membership of school and faculty committees, link lecturer, personal tutor, researcher, peer reviewer and supervisor.

Maria’s research contribution is organised around three main areas i) Midwifery practice including guideline development to support evidence-based practice and informed choice ii) Women’s experiences of maternity care and iii) Midwifery pedagogy. Maria’s methodological expertise lies within the application of qualitative methodologies (specifically Interpretative Hermeneutic Phenomenology) to mix-method and systematic reviews. Maria, as principle investigator or co-researcher has been awarded considerable funding, published in high impact journals and contributes to peer review journal publications.

Impact of an evidenced-base guideline Maria initiated, chaired and co-lead is emerging. The ‘RQIA guideline for Admission to midwife-led units in Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland normal labour and birth care pathway’, has been implemented across the five HSC Trusts in Northern Ireland, in other UK and international maternity care settings. Maria presented the guideline and pathway to country maternity care leads at the World Health Organisation in 2018. It has been translated into seven different languages (Swedish, Spanish, Catalan, Galician, German, Portuguese & Italian). She is also leading a funded RQIA audit of the utilisation and outcomes of the guideline and pathway across N Ireland, which is due for completion May 2020. Maria is an expert and advisory member of the European Midwifery-unit Standards and European midwifery-unit network. Future collaborative research is planned.

Other research projects include, co-leading the development and publication of RQIA guideline for 'Planning birth at home'; An evaluation of DOMINO and home birth services in Ireland (ROI); Women’s experiences of home birth and postnatal care; The development of national home birth care governance framework in Ireland; Systematic reviews of midwives practices in the second stage of labour and Community nursing and midwifery practice; A survey of student midwives education to explore what helps or hinders their support of physiological birth.

Maria was as a Secondary Proposer of the successful COST Action CA18211 ‘Perinatal Mental Health and Birth-Related Trauma’ which involves members from 30 different countries and began in November 2019. Within the COST Action, Maria is a UK Management Committee Substitute member and member of working group two: Exploring how culture, organisational structures and regional differences influence childbirth experiences. Maria was also involved in the EU COST Action IS1405 ‘EU Birth Research project from May 2015 to 2019. 


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