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 evidence based guidelines in the provision of midwife-led care
Knowledge translation of evidence into midwifery practice
Understanding women and health care providers experience of maternity care


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Dr Maria Healy joined the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast as a Lecturer in Midwifery (Education) in September 2016 and was appointed Senior Lecturer (Education) in 2021. Maria is an Athena Swan Champion for the school (2021 – to present) and has led several Athena Swan initiatives including the PHA Breastfeeding Welcome Here Scheme in Queen’s. She has held the role of Postgraduate Midwifery Lead (2020-2023), Programme Director for the BSc (HONS) Midwifery Sciences programme (Sept 2018 – Feb 2020) and currently is module coordinator, link lecturer, personal tutor and PhD and MSc research supervisor, PhD examiner and External Examiner to Trinity College Dublin.

Prior to this appointment, Maria was the subject 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 lead, undergraduate programme director, graduate module lead, supervisor, with an excellent record of shaping the direction of midwifery education, continual enhancement of student learning 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’. 

Dr Maria Healy is a Registered Midwife (RM), Registered General Nurse (RGN) and Teacher (TCH) and has extensive experience in midwifery practice and midwife-led care.



Dr Maria Healy has over 23 years of university-based learning, teaching and assesment experience within undergraduate and postgraduate midwifery education. She is a Registered Teacher with the Nursing and Midwifery Council having completed a Higher Diploma in Nursing/Midwifery Education at University College Dublin. Maria's teaching and learning expertise is on normal physiology of pregnancy and childbirth, intrapartum care, midwife-led care, professionalism and leadership. She led the development, design and implementation of the professionalism theme within the new QUB 2020 undergraduate midwifery curriculum and currently co-ordinates undergraduate and postgraduate midwifery modules. 

Continually utilising research-informed teaching, Maria implements the 'Universal Design for Learning' approach in her teaching, learning and assessment strategies. This provides a supportive, flexible learning environment for students. Adopting this approach encourages students engagement, increases student experience and enables knowledge translation into their midwifery practice. Dr Maria Healy regularly receives positive feedback from teaching and module evaluations, and adopts changes highlighted from reflective practice and evaluation outcomes. 


Research Focus

Maria’s research contribution is organised around three main areas i) Midwifery practice including guideline development to support evidence-based midwifery 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, mix-method design 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.

Maria initiated, chaired and co-lead the ‘RQIA guideline for Admission to midwife-led units in Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland normal labour and birth care pathway’. It was implemented across the five HSC Trusts in Northern Ireland, in 2016.  Maria presented the guideline and pathway to country maternity care leads at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2018. It has been translated into seven different languages (Swedish, Spanish, Catalan, Galician, German, Portuguese & Italian) published in Spainish and Portuguese (in the near future). She led the funded RQIA audit of the utilisation and outcomes of the guideline and pathway across N Ireland, in April 2021. 

To further improve the quality of midwife-led care, Maria has collaborated as an expert and advisory member of the European Midwifery-Unit Standards and is a member of the European Midwifery-Unit Network.  She is currently involved in impact case-study research with Dr Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho (City, University of London) in the utilisation of the standards and a self-assessment tool kit. Maria is a member of the Northern Ireland, All Party Group on Women's Health and Advisory member of the Dept. of Health Midwifery Review 2023.

Other research projects include: Women and maternity care providers experiences of home birth care provision in Northern Ireland; Co-led 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; An international survey of 'How pre-registration midwifery programmes support student midwives’ confidence to facilitate normal 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 from 2019 - 2023. Within this COST Action, Maria is a UK Management Committee Substitute member and member of working group two: Undertaking research to exploring how culture, organisational structures and regional differences influence childbirth experiences. Maria was also an active Management Committee Substitute member in the EU COST Action IS1405 ‘EU Birth Research project from May 2015 to 2019 with published outcomes. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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