Jennifer Vanderlaan

Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
Expertise: Maternal health, Midwifery, Pregnancy and childbirth, Postnatal care, Health policy, Global public health, Maternal morbidity and mortality


Trained as a midwife and family nurse practitioner, UNLV School of Nursing professor Jennifer Vanderlaan has an extensive national and international research background in maternal health — examining the topic from a health systems perspective and integrating clinical outcomes, health economics, and health policy to identify ways to improve access to quality maternal care.

Vanderlaan joined UNLV's faculty in 2019 and teaches in the graduate program. During the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, she embarked on a study tracking barriers to safe maternity care as well as midwifery practice changes aimed at reducing transmission risk. In spring 2022, she was named one of three researchers to lead a new Johnson & Johnson-sponsored workforce study through the American Colleges of Nurse-Midwives focused on increasing accessibility and equity in the profession. Other research projects have explored the use of hydrotherapy for pain management during labor and delivery, regionalization of maternal care, and the effects of childbirth education.

In addition to research, Vanderlaan in entrenched in advocacy work. She serves as chair of the Lamaze International Research Workgroup, striving for increased access to childbirth education. She is also a member of the American College of Nurse-Midwives' workforce committee, which focuses on health policy and health resources. 

Prior to UNLV, Vanderlaan provided continuing education for midwives in sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. She was recognized as an emerging leader by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses in 2015; served as a Centers for Disease Control Millennial Health Leaders’ Summit delegate in 2016; and earned the W. Newton Long Award for the advancement of midwifery in 2021.


  • Ph.D., MPH, MSN, Emory University
  • BSN, Russell Sage College
  • B.S., Michigan State University

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Jennifer Vanderlaan In The News

KNX News
We've talked a lot about how the pandemic has changed how we do things. Now we're finding out what's changed when it comes to having a baby. New data from the CDC finds more women are giving birth at home than before the pandemic.
Vital Views Podcast
What is water immersion, and how could this process help more women through labor and delivery? Dr. Jennifer Vanderlaan, UNLV Nursing professor and maternal health expert, explains the benefits of water births and what expecting families should know if they choose this method.
Mirage News
Emory University School of Nursing assistant professor Priscilla Hall, PhD contributed to a recent meta-analysis study on water births that is gaining far-reaching recognition. The study shows that water births provide clear benefits for mothers and their babies, with fewer complications than standard care methods. The new research involving Hall is receiving significant attention from medical professionals and media sources such as “Good Morning America.”
The Daily Beast
The term “water birth” describes a range of practices, but all involve immersion in water during some stage of the labor and delivery process. Jennifer Vanderlaan, a maternal health researcher at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Nursing and a co-author of the new paper, said the practice is akin to sitting in a hot tub and is used for pain management.

Articles Featuring Jennifer Vanderlaan

Remember sculptor Claes Oldenburg who created UNLV's iconic Flashlight sculpture this month.
Campus News | August 3, 2022

A collection of news stories highlighting university experts’ insights on and contributions to health, environment, and society.

Jennifer Vanderlaan on hillside.
People | February 10, 2020

When she's able to tear herself away from her focus on improving maternal health care, Jennifer Vanderlaan decompresses by taking a hike or playing video games with her family.