Nursing experience for future Midwifery entry - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-29-2010, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am a resident of Ontario, Canada and due to various circumstances (financial matters, childcare resource no longer available, eldercare issues) realize I will not be able to apply to the midwifery program here in Toronto again for a bunch of years.

I am trying to figure out what to do next. My spouse is employed at a university where I could study FOR FREE!!! Too bad they don't have a midwifery program!! They do have a nursing program.

I am considering studying nursing and maybe getting into L&D... or working with babies in NICU or something. I hesitate because of my distaste of the medicalization of normal birth. Sometimes I think becoming a public health nurse would be satisfying, working with pregnant and postpartum women and families.

Help. I would love to hear a range of experiences and opinions about how working with pregnant and postpartum women and families, and birthing women scratched your itch. Did working with one group scratch your itch for the other?

Any specific advise from an Ontario Midwifery perspective? I know there is an accelerated path to midwifery for health care professionals. Any btdt advice?

The truth of the matter is, even if I go to school FT for a couple of years for nursing and pay no tuition, we are still a two income family, and will be feeling the loss of my well-paid government job. We will be taking on debt... or something. I wish to make a well-thought out decision due to the sacrifices and expense our family would make.

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Old 04-29-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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it's so hard to know what to do. i guess if i were in your shoes then i would probably try and choose something that i could do and love so that even if i didn't get into a program, or had to try several times, at least you had a job you loved. the opportunity for a free education sounds pretty amazing though!

i chose to stay at home with my kids all this time and i really didn't have a way to fulfill my desire to work with pregnant/birthing women. i took the odd course here and there and kept reading about midwifery stuff, but it's not the same. i have no advice there

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Old 04-30-2010, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for answering my post Mandib50.

I think it's wise to try to chose something that I would love even if I never get into midwifery. I agree. This is where I need to discover whether another aspect of this work would feel strongly fulfilling.

I hear you on the sacrifices though for being home with children.

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Old 04-30-2010, 04:03 PM
 
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Well, I am going into nursing - not quite sure where I will end up, but there are many different areas of nursing that don't necessarily have to do with birth that you could consider too. Like you mentioned - the NICU. I can tell you that my last son was a preemie and our NICU nurses were my lifesavers. They were so kind and caring. When I sat in the NICU crying because I hated having to sit there in the uncomfy chair with my son trying to nurse him they put an arm around my shoulder, got me a comfy chair and encouraged even more skin to skin time with my baby (even when the neonatologist wanted my son to stay in the warmer they insisted he stay right where he was - in my arms and on my chest). They actually made what would have totally been unbearable very tolerable and I am grateful for their kindness. In our case I was only there one week, but their care really impacted me deeply.

Michelle married to my highschool sweetheart and mom to: DD '88, DS '90, DD '91, DD '94, DD '97, DD '98, DD '01, DD '08, and DS'09

(Non-profit Organization Director and Program Coordinator / Doula / Educator / Massage Therapist)

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Old 04-30-2010, 05:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by momto9kidlets View Post
Well, I am going into nursing - not quite sure where I will end up, but there are many different areas of nursing that don't necessarily have to do with birth that you could consider too. Like you mentioned - the NICU. I can tell you that my last son was a preemie and our NICU nurses were my lifesavers. They were so kind and caring. When I sat in the NICU crying because I hated having to sit there in the uncomfy chair with my son trying to nurse him they put an arm around my shoulder, got me a comfy chair and encouraged even more skin to skin time with my baby (even when the neonatologist wanted my son to stay in the warmer they insisted he stay right where he was - in my arms and on my chest). They actually made what would have totally been unbearable very tolerable and I am grateful for their kindness. In our case I was only there one week, but their care really impacted me deeply.
That sounds wonderful and is the kind of place where ping! I realize I can make a difference AND also feel like it's the right kind of place to put my life energy.

Thank you for sharing that.

What area of nursing are you considering?

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Old 04-30-2010, 06:23 PM
 
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Dear Surfacing,
I'm so glad I read your post in a timely fashion. I'm not going to tell you what or what not to do; I will tell you my experience and hope it helps you.
I am presently a nursing student two weeks away from finishing my third "block" (I'll explain something about this later) with one "block" to go before I will have my ADN (Associate Degree Nursing) from a local community college. (This is the quickest way to get to RN. In your case, you'd get a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) before being able to sit for the NCLEX-RN (the state board test to become a RN.)
About the "blocks" - I'm not sure if the university at which your hubby works does it this way, but "blocks" of classes are typical in nursing programs, which means you don't take separate 3 or 4 credit classes here or there, with the ability to adjust your courseload from semester to semester or repeat a single class if necessary. Instead, you take a "block" of classes, which all lumped together equal about 12 credits - a complete falsehood because the workload - timewise - is WAY more than full time. (I have an unrelated bachelor's degree AND some master's level credits under my belt and I can tell you this lumpof 12 "credits" is heavier and more challenging than past semesters in which I've taken up to 21 credits!) The trickiest catch to this is that if you need to repeat - for any reason (maybe you were to fail the pharmacology portion, or perhaps you missed two days of your clinical rotation due to illess or family issues), you must repeat the ENTIRE block. There is no flexibility of hours, and the pace is relentless. You MUST be at clinical (hospital) very early to very late, rain or shine, sick or healthy, with no provisions for "life" happening. You simply can't miss a test, and if you miss even a few hours of lecture your grade will suffer.
So, part of what I am trying to share with you is that the committment to nursing school is ENTIRE. Should you decide to do it, it will BE your life, not something you do on the side. You will see a lot that you don't like, a lot of suffering, a lot of calousness, a lot of competitiveness, and the hospital setting, the patient suffering, and all that goes with it take an emotional tole. You will be doling out meds from your first semester. You will spend days where that is almost ALL you do, rounds of dispensing meds like they are candy. You will use a lot of technology and be surrounded by flourescent lights and machines. Of course, there is the nitty-gritty...nurses do EVERYTHING for their patients. You will spend countless hours changing adult diapers and cleaning up every fluid the human body produces
(and some you may not have even known we could produce, ha!) All of these things have their place, and are not inherently bad, but if it is not your calling, and simply a means to another end, you may struggle - as I am.
So, if nursing is not your love, if you are not willing to DEVOTE yourself to it, then I encourage you to go a different route. In a nursing program, you will give a lot of time learning about MEDICAL problems and procedures. Very little time is devoted to OB (one quarter of one semester.) There is no way around putting a lot of time and energy into all the other areas - med-surge, psych, intensive care, long-term care, and if you are not really "into" these things it will be a long, tough haul (I've found, anyway.) If you are like me, and "just want to keep people healthy" you may get discouraged with caring for people by throwing medicines, tests, and procedures at them, with no discussion of prevention, or even how they ended up in the predicament in the first place. Again - I am not knocking medicine, it is very necessary, life-saving, etc. I am saying that if MEDICINE and caring for SICK people is not your thing, then turn away from nursing.
Now, if you're still with me, let me address your hope to possibly get a job in OB to get experience. As much as I don't want to be negative, I'm just going to lay it out in very simple terms what I have seen. At this point in time, it is very difficult for new grad RNs to get ANY job in nursing, let alone a specialty like OB. Fact. I know the media talks about the "nursing shortage". This may change in the future, but the reality is that, for a combination of reasons (a separate discussion - do a little research on the inet, start with "allnurses.com") there are not enough jobs for nurses. A few years back new nurses could choose which job offer they wanted, walk into any specialty, and start with a chunky sign-on bonus to boot. That is no longer the case. OB is one of the most difficult areas to break in to. An older nurse pretty much has to retire or die to create one opening. Nurses who do have jobs are hanging on for dear life. Most master's CNM programs require a minimum of a year or two nursing experience, and some programs require that it is in OB. I myself don't know how thats going to work with the job situation as it is. I am now trying to adjust to the idea of working med-surge or long-term care (where there are some jobs) for two years, and not liking it.
Had I known a few years back what I know now, I would have gone the CPM route. I still may! Nursing school has been SO stressful that I admit I - someone who had been "in" to natural health and wellness and wholistic ways for a very long time - have resorted to using some of the medicines I abhor for headache and depression. I realize that is a personal issue you may not face, but I do know I'm not alone in it; i've seen many of my classmates suffering alongside me. I hoped nursing school would be a wonderous time in my life. I imagined nurses, nursing instructors, and my fellow students would be, as a whole, a group of very caring, compassionate people with whom I might form a lifetime bond and create fun memories with while in school. My experience has been quite the opposite. The problem isn't the people really, it's the system. There simply isn't time to enjoy anything. We become robots, showing up day after day, studing night after night, taking test after test, doing as we're told by one superior after another (who often tell us to do opposing things), becoming sick ourselves from the stress, lack of time to contemplate and take care of ourselves, and from what I can only describe as "lack of "heart"".
I said I wouldn't tell you what to do. I changed my mind. DO WHAT YOU LOVE. GO WHERE YOUR HEART TELLS YOU, not what society or financial plans deams the "smart choice". Society and finances are fickle! I'm betting that your heart is not.
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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BetterSafe, you have brought up some important points. I've been mulling over them for a few days. Thank you for your perspective.

Maybe I have to just sit tight and keep at what I'm doing. I've done birth doula work for about 1.5 yrs PT (7 births), alongside working FT, so we know what it's like to live life on-call. We had great childcare support from my mother for the last 4 yrs, but she's not able to help the same way anymore after the summer. We will not be able to rely on her. I'm off on mat leave for a year and when I go back to work in July 2011, we will have to have a nanny or local babysitter.

The next couple of years are going to be very challenging. I love my little family and have much to be grateful for. I don't regret having my children, or conceiving this third child. I can just see that it's going to be hectic, busy and challenging with our finances being what they are and more limited supports.

I guess I"m just being impatient. I wish I could be a midwife NOW! But I have to keep at it. I am afraid that I will get so busy with my FT job, being a mother of three little ones, carrying on our responsibilities at home, etc. that I don't see how I can have energy to keep doing doula work or something like that. Reality check: it'll be different over time, as the kids are older. I am afraid I will get so out of touch and kind of "on the hamster wheel", plugging along with my responsibilities, that I will lose the momentum and confidence to go for midwifery later on. I am afraid I will be too tired to pursue my passion when I have more time and money, when the kids are older.

There are things I am interested in -- for example, volunteering at the teen centre downtown. But I live sooo far away from there and again, it's time, money and energy. I think I need to really sniff out closer opportunities to stay connected. Been thinking about getting certified to teach CBE classes.

Anyway, lots of good points about what nursing really focuses on. Food for thought.

Keep it coming, anyone who feels like sharing their experience and opinion. I just want to hear many perspectives so I can let them simmer in the back of my mind. TIA

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Old 05-03-2010, 01:50 AM
 
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I'm just beginning my journey to become a midwife and I can't imagine having started this when my children were younger. They are currently 9,7, and 5. My youngest will be starting school when I start the midwifery program in the fall. I'm currently finishing up the science prerequisites at community college and it's TOUGH. I didn't know that taking 2 classes, both with labs, added up to about 15 hours of classroom time and about 20 hours of homework per week. I know I couldn't be a nurse though as I view midwifery as supporting women and the natural process of birth. It's not an illness!

I think you can wait a few years to get started. I will be 40 when I'm finally a licensed midwife able to practice on my own. Historically in Germany, midwives were women who were past their childbearing years. It's a career that will only benefit from your womanly wisdom and doesn't need to be done NOW NOW NOW.
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:16 PM
 
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Bettersafe has excellent points! And Surfacing, you don't have to worry about becoming a midwife now. or a nurse, or anything, if you don't want to. Think of your life as a series of stages. Stage 1 might be Early marriage before children. Adjusting to your husband's schedule and he to yours. Then Stage 2, children. This might last for 10-20 years or more, but remember, the average lifespan is 70+ years!, and time with your children, especially raising them properly, cannot be repeated.Stage 3 might be called "empty nest"/young adulthood" and by this time, your youngest children might be older teens who don't need quite so much supervision(but still need to know mom is there, and you need to know where THEY are! ) and after that, the sky is the limit(and your husbands/family situation.
Long story short, I started studying for midwifery in teh early '80s, when my second child/first homebirth occurred. I couldn't let someone else raise them, so I was a stay at home mom, and learned to be a childbirth educator on the side(ICEA). I took very few clients, after learning doula work, but as situations presented themselves, I took what I could.Since I also homeschooled, that presented additional time demands.When the girls were older,8 and 5, I found myself facing single parenthood, so put midwifery on the shelf. My husband and I reconciled, temporarily, it turned out, so we had our only son, unassisted(there were no midwives there). Several years later, when the kids were 19, 16 and 8, I decided to go back to school, because restaurants, convenient stores and factories just didn't pay enough to support us. I started out in Nursing school, and when we got to clinicals, we were told we could not work during rotations.(OB, Psych, Long-term care, etc) I couldn't NOT work, cuz the kids depended on me. (their dad was long out of the picture by then).I also realised I didn't like the way teh system treated people, I had already been a doula/cbe and assisted at 8 homebirths by this time(17 years) and knew that a Certified Professional Midwife was the only way to go. So I switched majors, got a AAS in Computuer Technology, went on to get a BS in Computer Information Systems, and have finished all the prereqs to become a CPM. So I now am assisting someone here, part time, and hope to retake my exam in Aug. The point? Never give up. I couldn't have been a midwife with small children, our situation didn't allow it. But once the children were safely grown, I have been blessed with a husband who has actively encouraged(and paid for) my training! So it isn't over til you are in the grave. If a midwife is what you want to be, go for it. It may just take some time. I could never work in a hospital, knowing what I know now. My hat's off to those midwives/nurses who do. They are saints!
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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Old 05-04-2010, 02:02 AM
 
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I graduated from nursing school in 1995 and worked as a ER nurse for 13 years. I'm now finishing an apprenticeship and will eventually sit for the CPM exam.

I've said a few times throughout my apprenticeship that it was harder then nursing school. While nursing school was tough, so is apprenticing. It forces you to stretch and grow in ways you could never imagine. I thought I spent a lot of time between classroom and clinicals as a student nurse, but there were times I spent a lot more as an apprentice.

I don't have a lot of terrible stuff to say about nursing school. It was hard, but things worth doing usually are. I don't think it's necessary to be a nurse to be a midwife, but I think my knowledge from nursing has definitely made my entry into midwifery a little easier. I already had a good knowledge base of chronic medical conditions, I understood lab values, I knew how to do vitals, I'm great with documentation, transports are a little easier because I know the medical lingo and how to interact with the medical staff. And I love knowing that if I ever get to the point that I can't live on call anymore, or I need to make a better income to support my family, then I can easily return to nursing.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Christa
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for sharing your experiences, opinions and wisdom. I really like hearing it all.

And just FTR, I don't expect anyone to tell me what to do... I know I need to figure it out for myself... I was phrasing my question more in a way to elicit responses (by saying "help!") .

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Old 05-04-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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I graduated nursing school (with my BSN) in 1999. We did have schools that allowed part time course study, it just depends on the program. I spent my 1st 5 years as a PICU & NICU nurse and loved every minute of it. I decided I wanted to be out of the hospital when I had kids, so moved to community health nursing. I love it. I enjoy talking to my prego moms about the importance of BFing, I even explain how WIC will alter benefits for BF moms. (Food instead of formula). I love working with kids and helping new parents, I love educating about controlling diabetes and hypertension through diet & exercise along wih medication.

I also love how much my patients have taught me about herbs and their homeopathic remedies. I love going down to the yerberia and having patients recognise me and tell their family members how nice I am and introduce me to their whole family.

However, I would say that you should go to nursing school if you want to be a nurse (even if you want to be a midwife later), not just to "settle."

Also, my L&D nurse when I had my last c-section was a midwife birthing, BFing, non-vaxing, mommy of 6. She made me feel so comfortable in a medicalized environment. She also told me when she was in L&D (they rotate to surgery prep) she usually took the moms who wanted natural childbirth so she could coach them through it, and her co-workers loved that.

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