When I entered midwifery school, I was a little reluctant of thoughts that I will have to let go of my labor nurse identity. I’ve worked hard in nursing school, and then as an RN gaining experience over the past 10 years, and I think it’s only natural to not want to give this up. Becoming a midwife, a new grad all over again, is scary. For so many reasons.
There were so many things that it took years for me to appreciate as a nurse. It took years for me to understand certain aspects of the care I was providing from a multifaceted perspective, so to speak. Coming to realize the importance and value of nursing, as opposed to just doing my job and not screwing up, isn’t something that happens overnight or with the arrival of the license. And knowing this now, as an experienced nurse, makes me fear being the new grad all over again.
However, as I gain more experience in midwifery, albeit as a (sometimes bumbling) student, I look forward to shedding my RN role and stepping into the nurse midwife role. Sometimes. When I started my midwifery clinical experiences, I had a very hard time giving up that RN role. When I was in the office, I felt terrible that an assistant was there to hold my pap smear containers and to hold out the little basin for the used speculum. I felt like I should be able to just do these things myself. And when I started my intrapartum clinical, I never asked the nurse for anything. When I wanted certain medications, for instance, I would just tell my preceptor. She would tell me to tell the nurse since she was the one to carry out the order. I think at first it went something like this:
“Um, excuse me…. would you mind, kindly, if you could, um…. hang some pitocin now?”
I think it may have come out sounding a bit like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of broth. Even my preceptors were like, “Stop that!” and told me that I was the provider in the room…not the nurse. As I write that I realize that it may come off as “We big midwife…they little nurse!” but in fact that is not the case at all. What I needed to transition to was being the ultimately responsible provider within the team. I’ve been able to ask for things without so much guilt, and have noticed that many of the nurses have turned to me for orders, even with my preceptor there. Yet it still feels weird to say, “Send a culture on that urine, and hand two liters of D5LR over the next 4 hours”.
I’m in the final months before graduation, and I don’t know how in the world I’ll ever feel ready. I am so done with school as far as my mental state is concerned, but nervous as hell to become a new midwife. I fear that, like my nursing career, it will take more time than I’d like to feel like I’m just trying to do my job without screwing up.