Wednesday, August 17, 2016
It took six and a half years of blood, sweat, and many tears. These last few semesters of midwifery clinicals nearly broke me entirely. There were times when I wondered if I really should be doing this. I was beaten down so hard that I thought I would never graduate, even after spending all of that time and money. But, after eight months of clinicals, I did graduate (finally!). I got my congratulatory email from my school the day after my birthday last week. But even though that gave me my master's in nursing, I still could not call myself a midwife. Not until today...
Today I passed the AMCB (American Midwifery Certification Board) exam which makes me a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife).
I took this selfie right after getting into my car after passing the exam. I studied my brains out over the last week, and it paid off.
I wish I could tell you that I'm done with school, but there is one piece left for me to accomplish. I am going to do my school's 9-month DNP program for my doctorate. Once that is finished I will be 100% done with school, and then you'll be able to call me Dr. Kahn. (I've always wanted to be called that. See 90's Nickelodeon TV show Salute Your Shorts if you don't know why.)
My next step is to find a midwifery position in my area, though that is proving to be somewhat difficult. I have interviewed at several hospitals, but most (if not all) places want someone with at least some midwifery experience or at least some labor and delivery RN experience. I have neither. In the meanwhile, I will be working at Roxbury Community College as a maternity clinical instructor for their nursing students and hopefully will pick up some doula clients to keep improving birth on a small scale even if I'm not working as a midwife (yet).
Sunday, August 9, 2015
Dear Hospital Administrators,
As a hospital, you provide an essential service to the communities where you are located. Your staff saves lives daily. They care for people when they are sick and help them heal so they can return home. This is probably one of the most valuable services in existence, and you have a difficult job. You need to make sure your staff are the best so you can be the best, which is why I understand why hiring experienced doctors and nurses is appealing. Unfortunately, this is causing huge problems for new graduates.
I have spent over two years looking for a permanent job. I have spoken with countless nursing recruitment agencies only to have each one turn me away because I didn't have experience. Well, of course I don't have experience; no one will hire me! I have submitted my resume numerous times to every hospital within an hour's drive of Boston (and sometimes more), yet I can count on one hand how many interviews I've had, and I still do not have a permanent position. Every time I am brought in somewhere, I hear the same refrain: "Oh, we really need to hire someone with experience." Well, I'm very pleased that you brought me in for an interview, but why did you bother when you knew from my resume that I don't have the experience you are looking for?
I became a nurse for the sole purpose of working in women's health, most preferably in labor and delivery. This has been my passion since I was a child, and it is the only type of nursing that I want to do. But for two years I have only been able to give flu shots, work per diem on med/surg, and assist in procedures to combat hair loss. I have not treated a single pregnant woman in the entire two years since I received my nursing license. I am forced to work in fields that I don't enjoy or feel comfortable in, because I need to feed my family, and being out of work entirely for two years (or more) just wasn't an option. If you look poorly on my resume now, can you imagine what a two year gap would look like? "So...how come you haven't been working for the last two years?" "Well, so far no one has given me the chance to work in the field that I am dedicating my life to, so I'm still looking..."
And I am not even close to the only person having this problem. Any beginning nurse who wants to work in a hospital specialty will face the same thing. He or she may need to begin by working in a nursing home, and at some point she may be lucky enough to get a job on med/surg and possibly someone in that hospital will allow her to switch to a specialty after a few years. A few years of doing something you don't enjoy or want to do just for the possibility that eventually someone will take pity on you and let you work in the specialty you joined nursing for! That's unacceptable.
I've been working my brain off in school to become a midwife. I finished an entire 18 month BSN program in 6 months so I could apply to midwifery school. I have a 4.0 GPA in a full-time midwifery MSN program even though I'm working part to full time for an agency. But that means nothing to recruiters who are looking for 2, 3, 5, 10 years of experience when they are hiring nurses for their maternity floors. I would be an absolutely incredible maternity nurse, and I am stuck caring for everyone except pregnant women. I start clinicals for my midwifery program in about 3 months. I will be catching babies myself...managing labors...treating women in the office...diagnosing illness...all under the watchful eye of my preceptor. And when I finish that, I can graduate and become a licensed CNM. Then what?
I am faced with the fear of being unable to find a job even once I have an MSN in midwifery and am licensed to practice as a CNM. Why? Because I have no experience working on L&D or postpartum. New graduate CNMs do not appear to be as discriminated against as new graduate nurses, but hiring administrators still would prefer someone with some type of maternity experience. Great... And once I have my CNM license will someone want to hire me as an L&D nurse now that I'll have about 6 months of experience? No. Because they would know that isn't what I want to do with my life, and they would believe I would take a job as a midwife if one became available.
I am horribly stuck with no foreseeable end. This type of discrimination against new graduate nurses and nurses without direct specialty experience needs to stop. You want someone with experience? Give someone a chance to prove themselves and give them the gift of experience. In some ways, hiring a new graduate is a GOOD thing. She's fresh, not worn out or jaded. She wants to learn and do a great job. She'll learn how to do things YOUR way rather than stick with what she's been doing for the last ten years whether it's evidence-based or not. New grads are up to date on the latest nursing practices, too.
How can we fix this? Have nurse residency programs like the ones for doctors. Teach nurses how to be excellent in a specialty. If you want them to get some med/surg experience first, then put them on a med/surg floor for 6 months or a year before transitioning them to the specialty floor. But that transfer needs to be a guarantee, and they need to be properly trained. Make a commitment to giving jobs to new graduates and nurses without specialty experience. Be a part of the solution. Every time I see a job description that says "2 years L&D or postpartum experience required" I die a little inside. You hospital administrators have no idea how painful it is to be turned away before even applying for a position. And it happens daily, because I check your postings daily for the one that slips by and doesn't have that line added. Had one of you hired me straight out of nursing school, by now I would have two years of experience.
Rather than throwing those "inexperienced" resumes into the trash, I implore you to read through and see if that nurse would be a good fit for your floor, regardless. You might be throwing away the opportunity to shape someone into a fantastic specialty nurse. You could be missing out on having the most energetic, caring, thoughtful, safe, and passionate nurse you could find for that job (i.e. me). Experience isn't everything, though it is definitely valuable. Yesterday was my birthday, so perhaps this year could you give me the gift of experience in a job I would excel at?
Elana Kahn, RN
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Being there was like being back at camp. It felt so right, and I wish I could have stayed longer. Just being out in nature is incredible enough, but getting to spend time among people I love at the same time made it extraordinary. The water there is so clear you can see right down to the bottom, and it's so shallow by the shore that I could have easily caught a fish with my bare hands. Hopefully I'll be able to take the kids up with me next time so they can go swimming, ride in a boat, and of course they'll get to see Alexis and her family!
Enjoy the pictures of the hidden beauty that can be found just hours from the bustle of Boston.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Here I am with Colin Baker, most noted for being the 6th Doctor in Doctor Who.
We all then got to meet John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli in Lord of the Rings and Sallah in Indiana Jones.
Gavriella got along really well with George Takei, who played Sulu in Star Trek. He was so sweet to her and kept shaking her hand.
From that point, school and work basically took over my life. When I wasn't doing one, I was doing the other, except during my two week breaks between semesters. In the spring of 2015 I started to get back into acting, something I did quite a bit of as a teen and that I miss doing. I auditioned for many student and other films, and I was lucky enough to be cast in a few of them.
The first one I did was called "The Edible Phase." It's an incredibly creepy 2 minute film with no dialogue and a whole lot of symbolism. See if you can get through the whole thing. haha You only get to see my face at the beginning, but if you stay until the end you get to see Gavriella make her film debut.
I was also cast in many roles in a horror film that is hopefully coming out in November called "Once Upon a Deadtime Story." I don't have any clips from that, but when it comes out I will be sure to share with you how you can see it. On the same day that I filmed my first scene for the horror movie, I also filmed a short called "The Catcher," where I play a hypnotist. You can watch that one, and it is much less creepy than the first film though still somewhat creepy.
I haven't been cast in anything since then, though I have sent in quite a few auditions for things. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to participate in more things as time goes on.
In May, I took a two-day trip to New York to meet my grandpa for the first time. I know I wrote about finding my mother's birth family way back in 2013, but this was the first opportunity I've had to meet her birth father. Grandpa Joel is a hoot! We had a great time together, and I wish he lived closer so I could see him more often and introduce him to the kids. We didn't exactly get the greatest picture of the two of us, but it's something.
That brings us almost entirely up to date. I will do my best to post more regularly, but no promises. School and work have me running like a nutcase, though I am grateful for both! I will be starting clinicals for school in November, but I'll be doing them about an hour and a half from Boston. Sounds like a lovely commute, doesn't it? But it's all I have, and I will take it gladly!
Friday, July 10, 2015
Back in August 2013, even before Gavriella was born, I started a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program at Western Governors University. I continued the program after Gavriella was born, really pushing through as hard and fast as I could. I was able to complete the entire thing in 5 months and earned my degree at the very beginning of January 2014.
I made my sort of annual trip to Missouri just around then (Jan 2014) and was able to meet my student mentor from WGU, since she lives in the area that I was visiting. It was perfect timing, and my trip was awesome as a whole. I brought Gavriella along with me so she could see all of the people who were so excited when I first got pregnant the year before. I also got to meet some new people, which included my friend Heavyn's other best friend, Victoria. Less than a month later, the day before Heavyn's birthday, Victoria was tragically killed in a car accident. I feel so privileged to have met her and had the chance to spend the afternoon together before she died. I'm only sorry I didn't take a picture with her to remember our time.
I had another fun travel experience in March 2014, when I went to Louisville, KY for Louisville Comic Con. Gavriella came with me, of course, and we got to meet some fantastic people.
For example, Matt Smith (The 11th Doctor from Dr Who)
Karen Gillan (Amy Pond from Dr Who)
Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite)
And Sean Astin! (He's in too many films to name them all, but most importantly he was Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings)
Sean loved getting to hold Gavriella. We had spoken via Skype about 6 weeks prior to the convention, so he was looking forward to this for weeks. It was funny, because the first time I walked up and saw him he didn't recognize me for a minute, but when he finally did his face lit up and he came around the table to give me a big hug. If you call my phone, you can hear his personalized outgoing voicemail message.
The day after I got back from Louisville I started my first hospital nursing job as a med/surg float pool RN at Carney Hospital. I worked per diem for there for a little over a year.
We had a bit of some turnover with childcare over the course of the past year, but our one rock is our 'manny' Ron. His first trip from his old home in New York to his new home here in Boston was in March 2014. Starting in May he was commuting from NY to Boston (and back) every week to help us out. He finally made the official move to Boston a few months ago.
Right after finishing my BSN I applied to an MSN+DNP program in midwifery at Frontier Nursing University. Ever since I decided I wanted to be a midwife, that is where I wanted to study. I didn't really have any other option in my head, and I made the deadline to apply in order to do my orientation in May and start classes in July...I only had to be accepted. I got that acceptance letter at the beginning of March, attended the orientation in Hyden, KY in May, and began my first classes in July.
The kids had a decent school year in 2013-2014. Chana and Dovid were at Torah Academy in the pre-k, and Tzipora was at a family play group. Even though there were struggles, the kids got through. During the summer they all went to Camp Shemesh, and during one of the weeks in between camp and school they traveled down to DC to visit with Aunt Shira and Uncle Ben. They had a wonderful trip and got to experience a week of camp down in Virginia.
In early August 2014, I got to attend Boston Comic Con with the whole family. I had the opportunity to introduce all of them to Sean Astin, and I got to meet John Barrowman (Captain Jack from Dr Who).
John had a particularly good time making Gavriella laugh. At first she was a bit leery, but then she cheered up, as you can see.
I think that is plenty for you to read for now, but more updates will follow. I promise!
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Shortly after Shira and Ben's wedding (15 years ago!), Ben's grandparents (on his father's side) moved to Rochester. Since I was still in high school at that point I had the opportunity to spend time with them, and they came to my choir concerts, plays, etc. They also became friendly with my parents and grandparents. After my grandparents died, they became a surrogate set, and I loved them just as much as I loved my own grandparents. They treated me as their own, and I think somewhere down the line Grandpa Irv probably forgot that I wasn't blood related to him. :)
Grandpa Irv and my father became close after my Grandpa Bill died. They used to solve the world's problems over lunch each Tuesday. It's quite possible that after my father became ill he told Grandpa Irv to watch over me, because he certainly did. There's a favorite story of mine that really shows how Grandpa Irv had "adopted" me as one of his grandkids. About a month after I met Shmuel I was home in Rochester for winter vacation. It was about 6 weeks after my father had died, and the whole Simon family had come over for dinner. At one point Sheri (Ben's mom) was talking about how there were so many people getting engaged lately. I sat there with a smirk on my face, and when she noticed she called me out on it. I explained how I had met Shmuel and that we were seriously dating. At some point it was mentioned that he's 14 years older than I am, and Grandpa Irv really let me have it. Here are some quotes as I remember them: "What does he want with someone so much younger?" "Your mother doesn't want you to date someone so much older! Think about how she feels with your dad gone. He was a lot older than she, right?" "You know I'm only saying this because I love you, and your father's not here to say it for himself!" I tried to explain that he wouldn't be saying these things if he had met Shmuel and to wait to pass judgment on him. I knew that once they met that Grandpa Irv would have no problem with it. A few months later Shmuel came to Rochester and met the Simon family, and Grandpa Irv fell in love with him. Honestly, I think it was love at first sight with those two. After that all I ever heard from Grandpa Irv was "how's my Sammy?" It always used to make me grin, since I knew how upset Grandpa Irv was when I first mentioned I was dating someone older, and now here he was welcoming Shmuel with open arms. But that's just how he was...full of love. He loved us, and he loved my kids. I sent him a family picture with Gavriella in it a few weeks ago, so he was able to see her before he passed. I'm just glad the rest of the kids were able to spend some time with him when we went to Rochester this past May.
I did not used to be a very emotional person. When my father died I knew it was coming several weeks in advance. But I never cried at anything back then, and I stoically sat there during his funeral and even at his graveside with not a tear to be found. I wanted to cry, but for some reason my body just couldn't. Same thing at my grandmother's funeral a few months later. Same with basically every other funeral I've ever been to or when someone calls me with news of someone's death. Until this week. I knew Grandpa Irv was sick, and I knew this phone call would be coming, but for the first time ever I couldn't speak while Sheri was telling me that Grandpa Irv had died. I was trying not to cry into the phone or betray my emotion, so all I could give her was one word answers. I loved him as if he were my own grandfather, and in many ways he was. I will miss him terribly, but I hope he's getting to spend some quality time with Grandma Harriette who he's been missing the past 6 years, and I hope he gets to go back to having Tuesday lunches with my father so they can solve the problems of the world. Goodness knows this country could use their help.
This is Grandma Harriette & Grandpa Irv at my wedding - Aug 27, 2006. Not a great quality pic, but you get the idea.
This is a gorgeous picture of the Simon family taken in May. (From L to R: Shira, Grandpa Irv, Ben, Robert, and Sheri)