Midwife Monday – My Journey to Midwifery

Once upon a time, I had no idea I would be called to nurse midwifery. In fact, if you had asked me in high school “What is a midwife?”, it is very unlikely I would have been able to answer you. Out of high school, I actually wanted to be a kindergarten teacher, but I also knew I wanted to help people. I applied to a few Texas schools and a school in Colorado. I ended up attended Texas Christian University (go horned frogs!) and started school in August 2004. I originally declared my major as business and was planning to pursue medical school. I quickly realized the business school was not for me and switched gears into a degree I thought would help me take care of people, but also serve as a stepping stone to medical school. In Spring of 2005, I switched majors to nursing.

Nursing school is hard. I tell people all the time, I would go back to graduate school in a heartbeat, but you’d have to convince me to go back to undergrad nursing. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it – especially the labor and delivery rotation. At the end of nursing school you get the opportunity to complete a 8-12 weeks stint in a specific area of nursing with the same preceptor. I chose to do mine in the NICU and fell in love with little babies. I didn’t like that they were little and sick, but I did like taking care of them and their mamas. At the end of school, I wanted a job (like everyone else). I knew I loved fast paced care and I wanted to work in an area that you had to know you stuff. I applied to the emergency room and to labor and delivery. I interviewed for both positions at the same hospital. Labor and delivery called first to offer me the job and I took that as a sign of where I was supposed to be.

I started work at the then Parkland Health and Hospital system (now known as Parkland Memorial Hospital) and had no idea what was in store for me. I embarked on a 6 month residency to learn all things labor and delivery. I learned triage, high risk, low risk, OR, postpartum…you name it, we did it. In hindsight, this was the best thing for the start of my nursing career. In all high acuity areas of nursing, I am a huge fan of the nurse residency. It’s a stepping stone from new graduate to staff nurse without completely throwing you to the wolves. Parkland (as we called the hospital for short) is a BUSY hospital. We delivered over 10,000 babies a year, so the opportunities for good experience were endless. I saw everything. It was also where I met my first midwives.

Parkland had a few labor and delivery units. We actually called them “East” and “West” because of the shape of the unit. On the low risk side, the nurse midwives did the majority of the deliveries. The midwives had residents nearby since it was a teaching hospital, but they did most of the management themselves. This was the first time I saw midwives in action. A long time ago, Parkland had a midwifery program. The program had stopped before I was a nurse there, but many of the midwives that worked there were graduates of the program. Anyways…the bottom line is that I got to see some rockstar midwives deliver a ton of babies. And somewhere along the way I got the bug to go back to school to be a nurse practitioner.

That bug hit me around 2010 – about 2 years after I graduated from undergrad nursing with my Bachelors in Nursing Science. The gene for advanced practice nursing is strong in my family – my mama was a family nursing practitioner (FNP) for 30 years! The problem was – I didn’t know what I wanted to go back to school for: nurse midwifery or family nurse practitioner. I like both roles for different reasons, and ultimately, I think I wanted both sets of knowledge (on the other side of that decision – I would still take the FNP knowledge). Well, you know the story – I decided to apply to midwifery school.

I applied to the nurse midwifery programs at the University of Colorado and Frontier Nursing University. I had to interview for both programs and I didn’t get into Colorado’s program the first time I applied – I think I might have been waitlisted. I did get into Frontier’s program and made plans to attend their orientation in fall 2011. Well, the Lord had other plans for me. A few nights before I was supposed to go to the orientation, I had a change of heart and really wanted a midwifery program where I could sit in the classroom and see my cohort. Frontier is a distance learning program, but you complete your clinicals where you live. I reapplied to Colorado in the spring, was accepted, and made plan to move to Denver in 2012. From there, I never looked back! I can go into a lot more details but those are the basics on how I got to midwifery.

Did anyone else have to apply to multiple schools, or apply multiple times? Are you interested in learning more about the Parkland midwives? They delivered their 420,000th baby in 2017! Read this article to learn more about this rockstar group of gals!

Thanks for letting me share my story. Happy Monday!

Jamie

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