Today’s interview subject is a Registered Nurse (RN) working in Labor & Delivery who cares — not to say that all nurses do or don’t, but I know that Courtney Pauley DOES. Courtney has always been cool people since our school days, so when I went looking for a Black nursing expert, I knew that I had to seek her Black Perspective.
Introducing: Courtney Pauley
SSD: Jumping right in, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
CP: I’m a big fan of the Myers-Briggs personality test. There are 16 types of personalities, according to this system. I’m an INFJ…basically, I’m an advocate type of person. I need to align my values and passion with my career. It’s important to me to make sure the work I do impacts my community positively.
I’m kind of serious, but I do have a great sense of humor and find joy in a lot of things. I really enjoy being a nurse, I just don’t deal well with being overworked. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is being done to nurses and other direct & indirect healthcare workers right now.
SSD: I imagine your job involves more than just rocking babies to sleep – LOL!
Can you tell people a bit more about what’s involved? I think people have a certain image in their mind that just might not be accurate.
CP: At work, I do not rock babies. It couldn’t be further from the truth. I might see a baby for 2 hours out of my 13-to-14-hour day if I’m still on shift while the mother is recovering from birth. Even then, the nursery nurse is doing the lion’s share of work with the baby. I’m taking care of the mother.
What I do involves fetal monitoring on the computer to make sure the fetus is not getting stressed out in utero during labor – or, if the mom is not laboring, I make sure she stays pregnant. I carefully monitor any meds she is on, I check her cervix for dilation, thinning, and check to see if her fetus is descending in the birth canal properly (those kiddos can get turned around or just get wonky in there!). In the blink of an eye, we could go back for an emergent c-section for any number of reasons.
Labor & Delivery is 4 or 5 units in one. We work in the operating room, we have an obstetric ER called “triage,” we keep moms pregnant who are at risk of delivering too early, and we work the main area with high-risk medications on almost every patient.
It takes several months to orient to this specialty if you’re new. And then it takes a couple of years to get comfortable being on your own and thinking critically because every pregnant patient is different, so it takes a while to rack up those experiences.
SSD: What’s a tip that you’d give someone who sees you, is inspired, and wants to follow in your footsteps?
CP: I can’t choose just one tip. LOL!
Find someone who can mentor you so you can get the support you need to gain perspective and courage. This mentor can also give you a basic understanding of what it is that you would be getting into because school only gives you a glimpse.
Network, network, network. That means making friends or associates while in school, at work, at the YMCA, at a friend’s party – I don’t care. Get to know people because we ALL need a leg-up. People helping people is what life is about.
Also, do NOT undervalue the education you can get at a community college. I’ve been to an expensive private university, a state university, and community colleges…community college was more my speed. I enjoyed going to school with older people or folks with children, folks already working in the field for a few years, etc. I encountered more diversity of experience and thought in community college. Get the latter part of your education at a 4-year school, but get the first half at community college.