“Our patients can see themselves in us. We look like them, we have similar experiences to them, and I think that’s the advantage of having a diverse provider group. It’s been proven that that leads to better care”
Certified nurse-midwife, Alameda Health System–Highland Hospital
My family left the former Soviet Union in 1991. We were refugees and arrived in this country when I was 9. I have vivid memories of navigating through a very difficult time as a child. The feeling of things happening to you and not with you is sharply embedded in my mind. Once you’ve felt that, you recognize that in other people.
The patient population that we work with is very diverse. Many of them are recent immigrants. Many have difficult socioeconomic situations. All of them know what it’s like to feel marginalized in some way. I recognize that in other people. When they come in, I know what they’re feeling and I know what I would’ve wanted to have in my children’s births, and I try to provide that for them.
Our patients can see themselves in us. We look like them, we have similar experiences to them, and I think that’s the advantage of having a diverse provider group. It’s been proven that that leads to better care. There’s just a level of empathy that you have for people. You hear them better. You hear their pain, their wishes, their values, and you’re able to provide for them.
No matter how wonderful my clinical skills are, I can’t provide great care if I can’t understand the values of my patient.
I teach all of my pregnant women that your birth is everything that you have lived through so far. You bring your experiences to your birth. If you have anxieties or fears or insecurities, that’s going to come up when you’re laboring. And as providers, we bring our experiences.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what kind of a birth a woman has. It could be the most perfect vaginal birth; it could be an emergency C-section. If a doctor or midwife can provide a woman with a sense of empowerment through their experience, if they can provide them with a sense of “You’re the center of your care,” no matter what happens, even if the birth went completely differently than a woman anticipated, she will feel empowered through that birth.
It’s very difficult sometimes, but I feel very honored to do this work. And I feel honored to be part of this team. I think that’s what keeps bringing me back to work and feeling excited to do the work that I do.