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Birthday gift supports UIC midwifery scholarship

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Scholarship to support students in Doctor of Nursing Practice nurse-midwifery program Heading link

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For Lee Eichhorn’s 70th birthday, her husband, Bill, wanted to get her something “memorable and impactful.”

“I was thinking about it for months in advance,” he says. “Lee has been so passionate about midwifery and helping women, it suddenly dawned on me that a scholarship at UIC was a terrific idea.”

Eichhorn’s gift – both to his wife and the College of Nursing – created the Lee Shulman Eichhorn Endowed Midwifery Scholarship Fund for students in the Doctor of Nursing Practice nurse-midwifery program who are from an underrepresented group and display financial need.

For Lee Eichhorn, MS ’85, BSN ’81, it was “a huge surprise,” she says, adding “it’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten.”

“I want to support future midwives,” Lee Eichhorn says. “Hopefully this will help people who want to get into midwifery. I feel strongly that midwifery is the key to better care for underserved populations, and really, for all populations.”

Lee and Bill met as undergraduate students at Brandeis University. Lee was a biology major when she first thought of becoming a midwife. The idea of being at the side of patients, caring for them, and helping them give birth with less medical intervention was appealing to her.

“Midwives empower women to achieve what they want to achieve in giving birth,” she says. “They really listen to their patients.”

After a detour in Europe, the Eichhorns moved to Chicago for Bill’s job, and Lee enrolled at UIC Nursing, first to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing and then, after working as a labor and delivery nurse, as a midwifery student (which was then a master’s degree program).

“The midwifery program was one of the best in the country,” Lee Eichhorn says. “It had such a great reputation. I thought it was a great program.”

The program was small – only seven students in Eichhorn’s class – and they did most of their clinical rotations at Cook County Hospital. She recalls working on the “labor line,” a room of patients separated by curtains and attended mostly by midwives.

“Boy, what a great experience,” Eichhorn says. “We saw everything and did everything. It was a lot of fun.”

The Eichhorns moved back to Europe for Bill’s job with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and they raised three children, eventually moving back to the Chicago area. Lee capped off her career with a full scope midwifery practice at West Suburban Women’s Health before retiring in 2014.

Their youngest daughter, Catherine Eichhorn, MS ’17, also graduated from UIC Nursing (after first getting a bachelor’s degree in biology, just like Lee).

Catherine Eichhorn is now a NICU nurse at Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. Catherine says she feels fortunate to have followed in her mother’s footsteps at UIC Nursing.

“I hope that the scholarship helps those dreaming of becoming midwives, and that they go on to positively impact the lives of others,” she says.

The continuing connection to UIC Nursing through Catherine made the gift feel even more fitting, Bill Eichhorn says.

“I hope this can help encourage others who are looking to commemorate a milestone in a family,” he says. “[Consider] how much more impactful this is then a thing that you buy and forget about. This lives on. Her memory will be there through the gift.”


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