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A Nursing Student’s Refuge Amidst the Storm

In the course of childbirth, the timeline and progress of delivery can change in a split second. Emergencies can arise and conditions can change, so many laboring mothers call upon the support of their midwife to help them navigate these challenges both competently and calmly. To offer this combination of professional skills requires the exceptional training of a graduate program such as  Baylor University’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice Nurse-Midwifery (DNP-NM) track.  Baylor University’s DNP-NM program offers a superior graduate education for nurses who want to specialize in women-centered care with a curriculum founded upon the central principles of and approaches to midwifery. What truly sets Baylor University’s DNP-NM program apart from its competitors, however, is its Christian-centered ideology that instills the importance of quick, clear and patient-centered thinking, a crucial aspect of birth – and more generally of life – that incoming student Kara Simonton knows all too well.

Kara’s connection with Baylor University began when she entered the FastBacc program with Baylor University’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON). Having realized after the first phase of her professional career and the growth of her family that she was truly suited for a career in nursing, Kara enrolled in the accelerated post-baccalaureate program to achieve her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. As she soon learned, one of the central pillars of this program is the cultivation of the students’ ability to adeptly fulfill the needs of both the individual and the patient, and it was not long after she commenced the program that she herself was able to put this tenet into practice.

As Kara entered her second semester of her FastBacc coursework in the fall of 2017, she was suddenly struck with the desire to visit her parents, who resided in Mississippi. Putting family vacation plans on hold and rerouting the family eastward, Kara found her father struggling to make a difficult treatment decision after having been diagnosed with cancer. He was reluctant to do so, but Kara eventually convinced him to  visit MD Anderson in Houston to assess his possible options. So committed to her father’s treatment was Kara that, when she received a phone call that her father was considering abandoning his treatment plan and heading back to Mississippi, Kara jumped in the car and drove to Houston from her home in Dallas to support him.

As Kara left for MD Anderson on Friday, 25 August, 2017, a storm was brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Harvey made landfall at San Jose Island, Texas, on 26 August, and within a matter of hours the storm had tracked northward and settled over Houston, where it would dump rain for days on end. Kara had, by that point, arrived safely at the hospital and had convinced her father to keep up with his treatment, but the rising waters trapped them both in MD Anderson, which was put on lockdown. Kara was due back in class in Dallas the week following, but with the dangerous flooding and scary conditions there was no way she would make it.

For some students, this perilous scenario might mean the beginning of one’s crushed dreams: missed classes, failing grades, diminished performance. Fortunately, thanks to Kara’s determination and the care-centered outlook of Baylor University’s BSN FastBacc faculty and student body, Kara’s coursework stayed on track. IPads and Skype delivered classroom lectures and discussions to Kara who stayed faithfully at her father’s bedside, and a faculty member on the Dallas campus also connected Kara with another LHSON faculty member also stranded in Houston to boost morale and bring friendship to an otherwise arduous time.

When the clouds parted and the waters began to recede nearly a week later, Kara was able to say goodbye to her father and return to her family and classmates awaiting her in Dallas. For Kara, however, more tragedy was to come: a matter of weeks after the devastation that Hurricane Harvey wrought, Kara’s father would pass away. Realizing that her vigil at his bedside was the last time she spent with him alive, Kara was grateful: “As strange as it seems, I’m glad I ended up in Houston that week. If it wasn’t for Hurricane Harvey, I would not have gotten those last days with my father.” At the same time, had it not been for Hurricane Harvey and Kara’s own commitment to caring for her father, she might not have experienced just how deeply the Christian-centered credos of Baylor’s ethos ran.

Because of this unyielding commitment to individualized, patient-centered quality care and comfort, Kara graduated and will be entering the DNP-NM program at Baylor University. As a graduate student Kara will be able to refine her skills both through carefully designed coursework and extensive practicum hours so that when she graduates she will be well-versed in midwifery best practices. As a Baylor graduate, though, she will also be steeped with the spiritual desire to build personal connections with the women who she helps through childbirth and offer individualized care based in faith and bolstered by exceptional preparation.

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