Emory Report
November 6, 2006
Volume 59, Number 10


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November 6 , 2006
Nurse-midwifery students serve as role models in Barbados

BY lailee mendelson

After delivering their babies in hospitals, women in Barbados return to their homes and are soon visited by community nurses. “It’s the best way of doing things, giving women more support in their homes,” said Joyce King, clinical assistant professor in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “This is especially beneficial for first-time moms. It’s the way we should be providing care to women here in the U.S.”

In August, six nurse-midwifery students had the opportunity to experience this maternal healthcare system firsthand when they traveled to Barbados to observe their counterparts in action. Accompanied by King and Clinical Associate Professor Jane Mashburn, the students spent two weeks delivering babies at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown and working in community clinics, where they accompanied nurses during home visits to new mothers.

“This experience allowed the students to see health care that extended seamlessly into the community setting and gave people support in their homes in a way that doesn’t occur in this country,” said Associate Professor Maureen Kelley, who worked with Barbados’s Chief Nursing Officer Mitchell Clarke to arrange the program.

The program is an outgrowth of the rich and growing relationship between the nursing school’s Lillian Carter Center for International Nursing and Caribbean countries, where an alarming number of skilled nurses are leaving for better pay in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. Through a number of programs, LCCIN has been working to strengthen nurse-midwifery in the Caribbean, collaborating with the Caribbean Regional Nursing Body and with the chief nursing officers of individual countries.

King said the students were able to observe how to achieve excellent outcomes without a dependence on technology. “The students learned how flexible you can be, that you don’t have to have a high-tech setting to provide excellent, compassionate healthcare,” she said. “Just meeting and talking with nurses that have different viewpoints regarding women’s health care and midwifery is empowering.”

The students learned a lot, King said, but the learning went both ways, which is what she points to as the true value of such an experience. She remembers one especially touching moment that took place during a delivery. She saw a medical student, who had encountered the Emory group during the first week of their stay, rubbing the patient’s back and helping her breathe correctly, tips he had picked up from watching Emory students.

“One of the benefits of coming to a nurse-midwife in the U.S. is that they tend to supply a lot of labor support,” she said. “Our students, through their example, were a model for this individual in how to support women in labor. These kinds of exchanges are invariably marked by the impact of individual connections – one person touching another’s life. There is such richness in these opportunities.”

More news about Emory’s international initiatives can be found at the newly launched “Emory and the World” Web site, at www.international.emory.edu.