Breathe Easy, You've Found Me ((HUGS))

People will wonder why this blog is needed, why minority midwifery student? It's very simple actually; I was looking for this blog...but I couldn't find I created it. We all have unique experiences, and every experience, every story, can help someone else. I am a black girl from the hood at an ivy league professional school. That, alone, is reason enough to write. Somebody was looking for this blog. Someone wanted proof that what I'm doing can be done - even when you come from where we come from.

To that person especially, WELCOME.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Because Something Always Keeps Me Up an Night

I'm one of those thinking people who lay in bed for hours trying to fall asleep unsuccessfully because of the ridiculously extreme future planning swirling around in my head. I'm also a planner. Organizer. Goal setter and writer-downer. A budgeter.

A worrier.

So, something is always keeping me up at night, and for the last several months the reigning question at 2 am has been: When should I get a Phd?

I am SO SICK of having this conversation with myself. But I also think that maybe there are others out there having with themselves as well?!? Or probably some folks out there trying to decide whether they should work for an RN for a year (or another year) before going back to nursing school for their masters degree. I ask people around me questions like "how did you decide when to get your PhD?" or "generally, how many years of full time clinical nursing is considered to be optimal when you're interviewing people for faculty positions?" I've also talked to people about raising children while in doctoral programs, and having children in their first few years of practice. I guess I do field research, lol. It's funny when I think about it, but also necessary, I think. One of the best things about nursing is that it's dominated by women. Sure, there are drawbacks to this, but how cool to be a part of a profession that is mostly made up of women and therefore has women in every leadership role available. This provides the perfect opportunity to explore the intersection of working and personal life for women...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to Pay for This

I've been thinking a lot about the debt I've accumulated while in nursing/midwifery. (What's new?) As I finished my last financial aid documents for this 3 year stretch of school I felt incredibly tense. As I looked at the totals, an instant prayer for loan repayment formulated in my head. I will probably chant this prayer for the next two years as I attempt to secure it. I have always reminded myself that loan repayment is a very viable option for me because working in the types of communities that they offer the repayment for has always been my goal. But as I look more closely at these programs - the timing of the applications, their rate of award vs the number of applicants, and just how long it's going to actually take to repay these loans - I am, again, tense. I keep trying to put the possible ways this can pan out onto paper (this is how my mind works) and there are indeed many ways to make it all work, but nonetheless, the debt load is mind boggling. The reason why I am focusing myself to have some semblance of a plan now is because the first payment on half of my loans become due in June 2009 - the month following graduation! For others who may not have thought about it (but should) or those who have thought about it and happened to find themselves stressed and teary-eyed over how it's going to work, here's the best scenario I have so far:

May: Graduate...with June and July's loan payment in the bank.

June: Take the midwifery certification exam and start looking for a job

July: Secure a midwifery job...if not secure a temp placement in order to continue with loan payments

December: loan payments increase due to the 6 month grace period on federal loans ending

February: Apply for the NELRP and NHSC loan repayment programs

Even if I am awarded loan repayment under one of these programs, I will have to make payments for at least one year before the payments are taken over. Therefore it may be a good idea to use the "graduated" method of paying back one's loans so that I pay as little as possible during that year. So far, I am settled on working for 3 years straight (I pay my own loans the first year, someone else pays them the next 2) and taking a few classes a year toward a doctoral degree during this time. After three years of this, I should be able to move into a full time doctoral program with only one more year of classes remaining + dissertation. All loans would be deferred while I am in school full time. Then I would apply for research-based loan repayment through the NIH (or a faculty loan repayment program) for the remaining loan balances. The only thing I don't like about this plan is that taking a few classes here and there means that I have to pay for them myself. Not what I envisioned! Also, some of the schools I'm interested in don't have a distance option for their PhD program, and schools are picky about transferring in credits at this level.

I could also work for one year, then enter a doctoral program full time (thereby going into loan deferrment for 4-5 years) and then apply directly to the aforementioned research and faculty loan repayment programs... which was what I initially intended to do before I started waking up in night sweats about my loan totals. LMAO

Just a couple of the many ideas I have about "how to pay for this."

Today I start reviewing notes in preparation for the start of class next week... wish me luck.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Back into the Groove of Things

This will be my last semester of classes in midwifery school!

And it's the lightest load we've ever had. When I look at my schedule, I am in awe. I only have three classes and by some miracle they're all on the same day! I'm expecting for someone to say "oops, we saw how incredibly wonderful your schedule looked for this semester, and realized we forgot to tell you about a class..." on the first day of school. The rest of the week will be dedicated to clinical rotations (both antepartum and intrapartum) and working on my thesis. Of course I'll go into detail about these courses and the schedule when school actually starts. In the meantime, I had a ridiculous amount of fun shopping for school supplies and a new bag!

A lot happened over the few months that I didn't blog regularly:

[::] I became an RN! That's right, I took the NCLEX on May 20th and found out I passed 2 days later. It was monumental in terms of reaching a major checkpoint in this path of becoming a midwife and finally getting some closure for at least the first half of all the work I've done. Otherwise... I don't know. I didn't run out and get an RN job... and I feel no desire to do so even now, 3 months later. Most of the people around me have gotten jobs though and I feel like an outcast for not being the least bit interested. But in my defense, most people are doing it to make money, not for the love of nursing. I found another way to make money that's much more in line with who I am and my future goals:

[::] I worked all summer as a research assistant for midwives who were working on an application for a NIH research grant. It was such a great learning experience, and I got paid just as well as my RN working classmates. I then parlayed that into another position as a graduate assistant for a diversity program on campus that involved mentoring minority undergraduate nursing students through their own research projects. That job has been extended and I now have a job for the whole fall semester. These jobs were/are much more in line with my specific talents and goals. So why do I feel like I'm supposed to be working as a nurse? Or, more importantly to me, why can't I find more of the non-clinically working new RNs who are willing to talk about why they have chosen not to take RN positions? Where can I find mentors who think it's fabulous that I'm following my own dreams/paths to success in nursing - or at least get those who have been great mentors to really stand up and say "look, it works the way you're doing it too, we respect the decisions you've made and will make, even if they aren't in line with the traditional way of doing things in this centuries-old profession." LOL I won't hold my breath for that last one. ;o) It reminds me of something I wrote earlier about embracing all kinds of midwives, not just those who love clinical practice. The same goes for nursing. I have embraced nursing, just a different aspect of the profession. I hope I continue to find the treasured, less treaded pathways so that I am not only giving to the profession, but giving to myself as well. Good luck to all of you new clinically practicing RNs... but also to the new RNs still trying to find their niche in nursing!

[::] I went to the ACNM conference! It was held in Boston this year and we had a blast. I petitioned one of the deans for some conference funding on behalf of myself and the other midwifery students of color, and to my great surprise was granted funding (after a lot of paperwork - also a great learning experience) So we all cramped into a very small, very expensive hotel room in Boston and enjoyed the opportunity to meet midwives and student midwives from all over the country. There were of course moments where I was irritated with people for minor offenses (case in point: someone we had breakfast with randomly turned and asked me if my parents were "healthy" without it being the topic and without asking anyone else at the table... ugh ... just file it under "fat in nursing school" and keep moving I thought to myself) and the expected moments of disagreements while in conversation. Nonetheless, I had an good time. However, I will not be attending this conference every year unless it is paid for by my employer. There are good opportunities available, such as becoming certified in things like vacuum extraction and of course getting your CEU credits in one swoop. There were also good seminars, but being a student meant that we had just had lectures and read the research on a lot of the topics like hypertension, etc. It was more worthwhile to go to sessions that we will not get like those on herbal remedies, or working with residents, etc. But mostly the conference seems like one great big reunion... and I don't know that I need that every year... especially not $1,000 worth. Something occurred to us students over the course of the conference though... the ACNM is a very white haired white lady organization right now...or, probably more accurate, the younger midwives aren't very involved. We think that one reason may be that those in charge seem to be hanging on for dear life. Somehow we must make rom for the next generation... but the "next generation" is actually also quite older... so that means we should be making room for my generation. I think there is room to grow in the ACNM, but I think it is plagued with the same issues as the nursing profession is - the "requirement" that one work for a significant amount of time before moving "up" in ranks and education adds a considerable amount of years to the average age of those in leadership positions. It will be interesting to see where this goes, and to see how I choose to become involved...

[::] Random. In other not-so-significant news, I lost a few pounds, attempting to prep this plush, soft, fatty body for pregnancy in the near future. I started planning for graduation, which is seriously no small feat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Starting Anew

I'm starting fresh for the school year...without archives. I'm not going to attempt to weave all of the compartments of my life together here on this blog because, really, it's too much and I don't have the time, energy, or mental space to do that right now. I'm going back to the roots of my blog writing. I'm here to write about my experience in midwifery school, and anything that's relevant to that.

I am no longer a completely anonymous blogger but that's just the way it is. People around me will read this to get to know me instead of actually trying to get to know me through the work of interaction. People will use what I say here however they see fit. People will gain a slight advantage by knowing more about me than I do about them. People who know me in real time will continue to read me and not offer up a significant compartment of themselves in return, and that, too, is just the way it is. And my audacity to write about my own life - imagine that- will be seen as arrogance to a few people.

When I think about how I came to be ok with all of this, I have peace; and I only have to remember why I'm writing in the first place to reach that peace.

So, for the millioneth time, the blog is public again. But what does that mean when there is no archival history previous to this post?