Zero to Sixty in 4 Years

I recently received a request to chronicle my journey from “pre-nursing to CNM”–what classes I took, etc. Carolyn, sorry it’s taken so long to reply. Life as a second year student nurse-midwife is a whirlwind. Add in having a baby, and you have a perfect recipe for letting some emails slip through the cracks. Also, I realized that I simply cannot remember which classes I took when…and somehow, I seem to have lost the folder on my computer that had all my pre-nursing planning docs. Probably in a moment of “must organize everything! now!” I deleted it, thinking I wouldn’t need it again.

I chose to do my pre-reqs part-time, as I was working as a doula at the time and also busy volunteering at Planned Parenthood and with Backline.

Also: I would avoid applying to programs that require an entrance exam. Sheesh! That just sounds like more work! But I was lucky, the program I wanted to go to didn’t require one.

Fall 2011

I started taking pre-reqs in the fall of 2011. I had no background in the biological sciences, so I took an intro bio for health sciences, which was a pre-req for the A&P series as well as for microbiology

Medical Terminology (online)

Winter 2012

Anatomy and Physiology I

Human Development

Spring 2012

Anatomy and Physiology II


Summer 2012

Anatomy and Physiology III

Fall 2012


Submitted application in December of 2012

Winter/Spring 2013

Accepted to accelerated RN/CNM program

Continued working as doula, studying Spanish

Summer 2013: Began the 5-quarter Accelerated Nursing Program at OHSU

Health Promotion

Pharm I

Patho I

Fall 2013

Chronic Care: Clinical and Didactic

Pharm II

Patho II

Winter 2014



Population-Based Care: Clinical and Didactic

Spring 2014

Acute Care: Clinical and Didactic

Leadership II

Summer 2014

Integrated Practicum (on L&D/MBU)

September 2014

Studied for and took NCLEX

Started working part-time as abortion RN

Fall 2014: Began the 2 year midwifery program at OHSU

Health Assessment and Diagnosis for Advanced Practice Clinicians

Advanced Patho I

Reproductive Health Care Mgt

Concepts for Advanced Practice Nursing (online only)

Winter 2015

Advanced Patho II

Advanced Pharm I

Antepartum and Postpartum Care: Clinical/Seminar and Didactic

Spring 2015

Left RN job to focus on school

Advanced Pharm II

Intrapartum Care I: Clinical/Seminar, Didactic

Evaluating Evidence (online only)

Summer 2015

Intrapartum Care II: Clinical/Seminar

Newborn Care

Midwifery Foundations (reviewed history of midwifery, scope of practice, etc)

Fall 2015: Had a baby, so took time off from gyn clinical until 8 weeks PP and did not do any IP care

Started part-time RN job in an out-patient primary care clinic to fulfill RN hour requirement for APRN licensure in OR–OR APRN’s need 384 hrs of documented RN experience to qualify for licensure…but pretty sure we’re the only state with this requirement

Advanced Gyn: Clinical and Didactic

Intrapartum Care III: Seminar only, no clinical

Foundations of Teaching Midwifery (“How to Be a Preceptor 101”)

Concepts of Advanced Nursing Knowledge and Leadership (online only)

Winter 2016: made up gyn clinical hours, started IP clinical hours from Fall

Primary Care for Midwives: Clinical/Seminar and Didactic

Intrapartum Care IV: Clinical/Seminar

Spring 2016: made up IP clinical hours from Winter

Integration Seminar (resume writing, negotiating contracts, liability, etc)

Summer 2016

Final Integration: 8 weeks of working full-time as midwife with clinical preceptor

Fall 2016

Take board exams

Apply for state licensure as CNM/APRN

Apply for NPI and DEA license (to prescribe narcotics)

Find job, get privileged and credentialed, live happily ever after as a midwife!



A Giveaway for Students!

That’s right! I’ve been doing some early spring cleaning and have some things to give away to my lovely readers. First round is my copy of the Taber’s Medical Dictionary (w/CD) and a set of Netter’s Anatomy Cards!


Both of these resources served me well in Anatomy and Physiology and I’m excited for them to find a new home.

To Enter: Submit a comment by Monday, March 3 in which you share one thing that you’re really excited to learn in an upcoming class or workshop you’re taking. It can be anything…I love hearing what other people are learning! I’ll randomly pick one lucky person to win the dictionary and the flashcards.



UPDATE! 3/4/14

Congratulations to our winners, Anna (the medical dictionary) and Joan (the flashcards!)…loved hearing what you all are learning. Have a great week, everyone, and keep your eyes open for another giveaway soon!


Reading List

Oh, there are so many books and articles to read! (Also, so many blog posts to write, but I just tell myself I’m practicing for when I’ll have even less time.)

I do believe that last time I wrote, the blog post some thing about “Easing” into fall. I’d update that to be more like spiral vortex at high speed now…but it still feels manageable, and more importantly, enjoyable.

I’m loving microbiology, which takes considerable study time, but always feels exciting and interesting. Lab is great fun–I love actually feeling like I’m learning something practical, and there’s a lot of practical in micro lab. I’m also taking Korean this fall, in the hopes of spending three months there this spring before I (hopefully) start nursing school. Those two things, along with doula clients, other volunteer commitments, and finally settling into the application process, keep my days full.

So, I’m mostly about list-making these days, to keep track of things I want to read when things slow down a bit after fall finals.

On the list:

Henci Goer’s new book “Optimal Care in Childbirth: The Case for a Physiologic Approach”

Barbara Kingsolver’s soon to be released new novel “Flight Behavior”

Sun Yung Shin’s new collection of poetry “Rough, and Savage” (just arrived in my mailbox this week!)

And more…that I somehow can’t remember at the moment, perhaps related to the late hour. Off to bed!


Easing into Fall

The past month has flown by…after summer finals ended the first week of September, I had a few days to finish packing, and then we were off to Korea for a little over two weeks. It was an amazing trip–we made lots of new friends, spent a ridiculously small amount of money on astonishingly good street food, and got to spend time in the southern part of the country as well.

It was good to get out of the country for a while. It was a chance to let myself put all thoughts of midwifery aside, and just relax. While it wasn’t a vacation per se (I was also engaged in a birth search), it was time that allowed me to step away from the nose to the grindstone approach I’ve been taking for the past year in finishing these pre-reqs and reflect on my next steps.

Of course, what ended up happening was that I met an amazing fellow Korean adoptee from LA who’s working in perinatal mental health, and we had many late night conversations about adoption, parenting, full spectrum doula work, mental health, midwifery…and how much work there still is to be done regarding women’s reproductive health and sex education in Korea.

So, yeah, needless to say, my passion was rekindled, and I’m scheming up new projects and ideas for research.

I’m back in Portland now, and already finishing up the second week of the fall term. I decided to go easy this fall, so I’m just taking microbiology, which honestly, is really two classes. Lab and lecture both meet twice a week, and there’s so much work that it feels like it’s worth every one of those five credits.

But this was the class I’ve been waiting for…I knew it would  be fine, and so far it’s been every bit as fun as I was hoping it would be. It’s nice to come back full circle…the instructor I had last fall for cell bio is teaching my micro class this year…it’s been a pretty easy transition home in part because I knew that I’d be in good hands for this class.

This weekend we’re taking it easy…heading out for a weekend trip to rest a bit…but when I get back I’ll be launching full speed into application season. I’ve had the application questions printed out and on my bulletin board, but next week I’ll be starting the writing process. I think it’s been good to take a few weeks off from this process–I feel like I’m coming back refreshed and more eager than ever to get this process rolling!

Turning the Corner

I’ve been a bit relaxed these past few weeks on the blog…and by relaxed I mean non-present. We’re already into week 3 of the term…just took my first stats test today. Nothing too complicated. In fact, I’m finding that aside from the rather tedious homework, I’m actually really enjoying the class so far.  Granted, this isn’t rocket science (just standard deviation and z-scores…) but I enjoy reading research and thinking about all the cool projects I’d love to explore someday…which leads to me to think about how I could design studies of my own.

So, when registering for my last official term of pre-reqs this fall, I signed up for Stats II along with my Microbiology class. I’m pretty stoked for the fall–I’ve been pining for micro since I first took cell bio last fall. I loved the professor, and now I’ll get to be in her class again, as she teaches her speciality.

I got my transcript review back from the main program I’m hoping to attend, with a thumbs up on all my classes.  As long as I pass the next two terms  with B or better, I’m all set. To apply, that is. Applications open September 1, which has me both super excited.

In the meantime…I’m reading up on respiration and digestion for my first A&P mid-term next Tuesday…and when I’m not doing that, I’m reading something from this stack.

I’ve also got two clients who are hoping to meet their little ones in the next month…and I’m on pins and needles waiting to hear back from GOAL about my application to First Trip Home 2012. Hopefully I’ll find out tomorrow!! Also looking forward to another shadow day with a wonderful CNM I know here in town. I’ll be observing her on call during a day shift at a local L&D unit…can’t wait.

And Then It Was Summer

Summer term has started–I’m taking A&P III and Statistics, and will have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays this summer. For my last night before class, I hung out with B and a friend of mine visiting from out of town…we watched the episode of Mythbusters where they test the 5-second rule, which got me all jazzed up for Microbiology this fall.

Sigh.  One term at a time, girl, one at a time!

On More Mundane Matters…

If someone had told me in 10th grade that paying more attention in math class would be beneficial, and possibly save me time and money later, I still might not have believed them, that’s how much math and I got along.  Alas, here I am, several years later, wishing I had paid more attention, and that I had maybe taken at least one math class in college.  I’ll be taking a placement test to determine my math level on Friday, and hoping at least to get into the intermediate algebra class, which will allow enough time to get into stats this winter or spring.  I thought I had met the pre-reqs, but apparently don’t…so I’ll be playing a little catch up for a few terms.

I have to be honest, this whole fiasco has brought up some long-buried insecurities.  For several years now, I’ve been able to coast through life with my paltry math skills.  I even graduated with a MEd, having taken classes to teach math to elementary age kids.  But ask me how to factor a polynomial, and I have a little moment of disconnect, where it takes me a while to remember what exactly that means. I have no doubt that I’ll be just fine in nursing school and midwifery school…but having that panicky “I have no idea what I’m doing” feeling while taking the practice assessment test brings back all those feelings of inadequacy I felt as a high schooler and in college.

So, here’s to a return to the humility and openness to learning (or re-learning) the very, very basics.  It helps that I’ve graduated from an awesome women’s college, the kind of place that makes you feel like you can do anything.  I’ll take this one just like every other challenge life has presented–one step at a time. Thank goodness for Khan Academy.

Update: So, after all that, turns out, the math department let me take stats after all…whew!  This is an awesome–and by awesome I mean from the 80’s–Annenburg series on statistics the prof recommended viewing to prep for the course.  The hair-dos are a little painful, but hey, at least there’s something to laugh about!

Post-Finals Wrap Up

Well, as of noon this morning, the spring term is over. Finally.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with how I did this term–I won’t fail, it’s true…but taking three classes and having three clients this spring definitely upped the ante a bit.  I’m excited for a slightly more mellow summer (just A&P III and Spanish).

In the meantime, for the next week I’m going to relax, catch up with friends, and work on some writing projects I’ve been putting off for a while.  I’ll also be working hard on improving my Korean, as I’ve applied to participate in this years First Trip Home, with GOAL!

And, I’ll be wishing I had one of these amazing chairs! Who wouldn’t want a womb chair???

A Glimpse of the Future

This morning, after finishing my lab final for A&P II, I raced over to hear two very dear friends, just recently graduated as nurse-midwives, present their integration experiences to their midwifery faculty and current cohorts. It was fairly casual, but a wonderful chance to hear more details about what integration’s like.  I feel like I have a much better sense of what to expect during those last weeks of my midwifery training, and the diversity of settings that are available.

It was also a great glimpse into all the things that we never think about: namely, the business side of things.  Several of the presenters touched on the financial aspects of starting a private midwifery practice, or working in a HMO, or in a FQHC, or even working within a hospital practice. It was interesting to hear them muse on the ways in which providers balance the needs of their patients with meeting the bottom line.

As someone considering applying to the National Health Service Corps to help fund my midwifery education, it was especially great to hear my friend Laura present her integration experience in Chinle, AZ. One thing I noticed was the way in which everyone else talked about “patient populations” and what the “social” challenges were (complicated social history includes anything from drug abuse to domestic violence to poverty, etc).  The assumptions underlying some of the “social” challenges were pretty pervasive, and it made me think about how I can maintain a sense of openness to meeting people where they are without coming to conclusions after just reading a chart or doing an intake assessment.  It’s one of the things I love about being a doula–I have lots of time to get to know my clients without feeling rushed to make assumptions about their preferences.

Mostly, though, I left feeling a renewed sense of motivation and excitement for this path to midwifery.  Sometimes (perhaps especially) in the midst of memorizing blood vessels, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture.  Hearing my friends and their cohort share their culminating experiences was a good dose of inspiration, and wonderful glimpse of where I hope to be three or four years from now.

Speaking of school…

I’ve mostly finished my nutrition take-home, and my lab final for A&P is done…so now I can focus on the lecture final on Tuesday, and my final oral presentation for Spanish, which is a group presentation.  And then I’m done, and free until June 25th!  This summer I’ll only be taking two classes, which will feel positively luxurious! Looking forward to checking two more classes off that list…

In Dire Need of a Nap!

This week, was, in a nutshell, crazy.  Amazing, but crazy.  Perhaps it was not the most responsible decision to head out of town for a conference the weekend before finals, but oh, I’m so glad I did!  I met a lot of awesome CNM/NP students, connected with other APC’s, and in general learned a lot about reproductive health issues.

I came home with a renewed passion for this path I’m on, and I’m really, really excited to start the application process for RN/CNM programs this fall.

In other news…thinking of taking an online pathophysiology class this summer, just to dip my toes in a bit more.  I probably should do microbiology first, but the instructor I really want to take it with doesn’t teach in the summers, so I’m waiting.  We’ll see…

Also, so thrilled about Alissa Perrucci’s new book, Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care: Philosophy and Practice. As a volunteer options counselor, I always am on the lookout for new frameworks to help guide my approach, and this book is fantastic. I really appreciate her perspective on ambivalence–that more often than not we are ambivalent to some degree about decisions we make, and it’s the job of the counselor to give space to explore and validate those ambivalent feelings as normal.

Ok, now, for a quick nap before a doula business consultant meeting and then prenatal tonight!