Nursing doctoral student named Albert Schweitzer Fellow
Nov. 4, 2022 — HOUSTON — Kelsie Barta, a nursing PhD candidate at TWU Houston, is a fellow with the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Houston Galveston (ASFHG) to spearhead a project focused on increasing access to lactation support for pregnant and postpartum women and families in the Houston area.
“It’s really exciting,” Barta said of the fellowship. “The process of learning how to implement a new project like this has been very helpful. Engaging with the community that I want to research with and making the connections I've made has been amazing.”
Barta is the first student from TWU to receive a fellowship from ASFHG. Most TWU students participate with the DFW chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.
Her project is twofold. Barta, in partnership with Push Birth Partners (PUSH), provides breastfeeding support in group settings, in person and over the phone. She is also developing a curriculum to train breastfeeding peer counselors so that community members aspiring to work as lactation consultants can provide support toward future lactation certification. Sustainability after the fellowship ends is a strong focus of ASFHG.
“The lactation consultant profession is not very diverse. Most lactation consultants look like me. They are white women,” Barta said. “That’s not reflective of who needs lactation support in Houston.”
In addition to identifying the need in Houston, Barta said that nationwide, 80% of pregnant women who want to breastfeed do not meet their goals. Having support such as that of a lactation consultant increases the probability of meeting their goals.
“Kelsie is really passionate about improving the rates and positive experiences of breastfeeding for mothers in underserved communities,” said Donna Scott Tilley, PhD, who is Barta’s mentor on the project. “Many people don’t understand that breastfeeding, though completely natural, can be difficult and require some coaching and support. Kelsie’s project essentially provides that coaching and support to women who would not otherwise get it.”
Barta discovered that lactation support is her passion after becoming a mother herself while she was working as a postpartum nurse early in her career.
“When I had my first child, I was surprised at the difficulty of breastfeeding and thankful for the support,” Barta said. “As a postpartum nurse, I loved the education components and more intensive support aspects. It felt more like health care than sick care.”
Soon after, she became certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.
“I am so proud of Kelsie and this incredibly important work she is doing,” Scott Tilley said. “She’s really tuned in to what these mothers need, and she’s completely committed to making sure they get what they need to be successful with breastfeeding.”
Barta is one of 78 Fellows with ASFHG and joins approximately 250 other 2022-23 Schweitzer Fellows across 13 chapters throughout the U.S.
Visit PUSH for more on Barta’s project.
About the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Houston Galveston (ASFHG)
Fellows are immersed in a year of learning to address unmet health needs of vulnerable communities in the Houston Galveston region. They partner with local community-based organizations to develop and implement yearlong mentored service projects that improve the health and wellbeing of underserved people. The fellowship also provides mentoring to develop lifelong service leadership skills and advance physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer’s message of service.
Launched in 2008, the ASFHG is funded by private donations, the support of charitable foundations and academic institution sponsorships. More information is available at asfhg.org.
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Page last updated 4:07 PM, November 8, 2022