Brave Woman

Adventures of a future nurse-midwife

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Job Shadow

Posted by Lucille on October 9, 2015 at 1:00 PM

There was a student last year who did what I am trying to do (applied to the midwifery program while in the AccBacc program) and got in. I got in touch with her and one of the things she suggested was trying to set up a job shadow.

That turned out to be a lot harder than expected. Most places turned me down because of liability, or sent me through a bureaucratic runaround that led to dead-ends.

I cold-called midwifery practices. I called hospitals I'd been to as a doula and mentioned the specific midwives I'd worked with. I reached out to nurses I knew and asked them to pass my number along to any midwives at their hospitals.

It was exhausting and scary to keep reaching out again and again and again, but finally, I heard back, from a wonderful midwife who remembered how much her mentors had meant to her as a student and had resolved to always try to be that person for the next generation.

It was such an amazing experience. I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and about as green as they come, but all the midwives seemed really excited to have me there. They wanted me to get to see as many things as possible, so they passed me around to whoever had the most going on, and always took the time to answer my (many) questions even though I'm pretty sure it put them behind. I was blown away by how invested everyone seemed in my experience and learning that I started considering ways I could someday have this mentorship role myself, and help welcome others into this work behind me. I'm not sure teaching in a classroom would be quite for me, but there's always a need for preceptors!

I was especially excited to shadow in clinic, because this was the side of a nurse-midwife's job that I hadn't been able to see as a doula. A part of me was nervous. What if working in the clinic didn't grab me the way that birth did?

I need not have worried. It was amazing. Every appointment was so different, and yet each time, the midwives met the family exactly where they were at, connected with them, and walked with them into the next step of whatever was happening. There was a tugging in my chest when I left, the kind that says, "This. Yes. I want to do this."

At the hospital, I got to observe a few postpartum discharges. I'd never seen a labor and delivery floor that wasn't busy, so it surprised me that there was no one in labor on any of the days I was there. Thanks to me having the guts to be more assertive than I'm usually comfortable with, and the generous advocacy of the midwives I'd been working with, I got my shadow extended and transferred to a different midwife so that I could observe a scheduled cesarean the next day. This would be my first surgery and 20th birth. I was so nervous/excited the night before that I could barely sleep.

There was confusion about when I should arrive vs. what time the surgery was scheduled to start, so I got there after baby was out, but I got to watch the repair. Later the midwives helped me transfer my shadow to an OB so I could observe a high risk cesarean (though I can't share specifics because: HIPAA). It was absolutely amazing watching a whole team of healthcare providers join in a careful dance to get everyone through the procedure safely. It was also strange to be a part of someone's birth without ever learning their name.

So far my break has not been remotely restful, but it has definitely been restorative, in the sense of reminding me why I'm working so hard to go into this work. I have one more week of break before the start of fall term, and no plans except to rest, recoup, and spend some quality time with my family and Travis, before the nursing school train takes off again!

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