A graduate of Georgetown University's School of Nursing, Colleen Conway-Welch became a Certified Nurse-Midwife during her pursuit of her M.S.N. degree from Catholic University of America and, in 1973, earned her Ph.D. in nursing from New York University. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Colorado, Georgetown University and Cumberland University.
The former director of the nurse-midwifery graduate program and the chair of the division of parent-child nursing at the University of Colorado, Dean Conway-Welch became Vanderbilt University School of Nursing's sixth permanent dean in 1984. A member of the Institute of Medicine, she is also a Fellow of American Academy of Nursing and a Charter Fellow of the American College of Nurse-Midwives.
The number of boards and committees on which she sits demonstrates her commitment to and involvement in health care issues. These boards include Governor Don Sundquist's Commission on the Future of TennCare, the Tennessee Board of Nursing, the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine and the Healthcare Leadership Council. In 2002, she was invited by Secretary Tommy Thompson to be a member of the Secretary's Advisory Council on Public Health Preparedness and the Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee. She was appointed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, serving from 1998 to 1999, and named by President Reagan to his Commission on the HIV Epidemic (1987-88). She is a former president of Friends of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Nursing Research. Extremely active in both civic and cultural matters, Dean Conway-Welch chaired the 1999 United Way Annual Giving Campaign for Middle Tennessee, served an appointment on President Bush's Advisory Committee on the Arts - John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and is a member of the Rotary Club of Nashville. She also received the New York University School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999 and was awarded the Association of Childbearing Centers Public Advocate Award in 2001.
She is the founder and director of the International Nursing Coalition for Mass Casualty Education, an international coalition consisting of organizational representatives of Schools of Nursing, nursing accrediting bodies, nursing specialty organizations and governmental agencies interested in promoting mass casualty education for nurses. She also serves as an Invited Member on the Expert Evaluator Group for the Center for the Study of the Presidency. She sits on the corporate boards of RehabCare Group Inc., Pinnacle National Bank, Caremark Rx. Inc, Ardent Health Services, and chairs the Nurse Advisory Committee for HealthStream, Inc.