While I was attending school at Hampton University as a biology and pre-med major, I became pregnant with my son who was born with a congenital heart defect. While caring for my son, both in and out of the hospital, I was amazed by the compassionate, comforting and educating nurses that I was surrounded by. By the time my son was discharged from the hospital I made up my mind that to switch my major to pursue a nursing career.
While attending nursing school Sentara College of Health Professions, I also worked as a nursing care partner assigned to women’s health at Sentara Hospital. During this time, I had the opportunity to work in high-risk OB and I was constantly seeing underprivileged women who were not getting appropriate prenatal care, who didn’t have good sexual health and didn’t have awareness of sexual education. I came to the realization that something needed to be done to educate underprivileged women about sexual health, how to appropriately plan for pregnancy and how to prevent sexually transmitted disease. I passionately wanted to make sure these women knew that they had a choice on when to have children and what their options were.
When the time came for me to pursue my WNHP degree, I started researching what schools were doing progressive work in the Women’s health nurse practitioner field. I came across Dr. Kathy Trotter who believed in the act of centering and I found out that was something that was signature to DUSONs program.
One of the things I love about my education at DUSON is the opportunity we have to work with standardized patients. I was able to work with a 33-week pregnant woman and was able to perform an exam on her. During the exam, I was able to practice my skills in a real-life teaching environment, not just a simulated teaching environment. To have a woman come in to donate her body and her time for me to do my very first exam on her has been an amazing experience. Another thing that is great about this opportunity is that the exam is recorded. We are not only able to interact with our standardized patient on how the experience was for them but we are able to go over the video with our instructors to find out what we could have done differently and other ways to improve.
The education I am receiving at DUSON is preparing me to be a credible voice in the community. It will allow me a larger platform to not only practice women’s health but to talk about women’s health and educate on women’s health. I currently work for the Department of Veterans Affairs and the fastest population of growth is in women veterans. It wasn’t until recently that the VA had a comprehensive women’s health services in Veterans Hospitals.
Being a part of the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner program, I have witnessed that our instructors are invested just as much in us as we are in the program. I’ve seen first-hand that there is so much that can be done with this degree and within the space of women’s health and that one person truly can make a difference in someone’s life.