When she first found out she was pregnant, Natausha Smith, BSN, RN, was preparing to finish her nursing degree—not become a mother.
As she progressed in her pregnancy Natausha met with a nurse from the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a free maternal and childhood health program that gives first-time moms valuable knowledge and support throughout pregnancy and until their babies reach two years of age. The program is free for women WHO meet low-income requirements. Natausha credits her success and strength to the motivation her nurse home visitor, Teresa, provided when she was at her most vulnerable. Because of the support she received from Teresa, Natausha completed her nursing degree and became a nurse home visitor herself. In recognition of Mother’s Day, we spoke with Natausha about how NFP has helped her find success and help other first-time mothers do the same.
Nursing Notes: How did you first get involved with the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP)?
Natausha: When I was in my last year of nursing school to complete my associate’s degree, I found out I was pregnant. I was so focused on finishing school and not ready to be a mom. Luckily, I got connected to the Nurse-Family Partnership program at Building Blocks, which is affiliated with SoutheastHEALTH in Cape Girardeau, Mo.
NN: What was your relationship like with your NFP nurse?
Natausha: The relationship that developed between my nurse, Teresa, and me was very special and led me to become a nurse with Nurse-Family Partnership. Her compassionate and supportive attitude stuck with me even after our visits had ended. I wanted to become a supportive voice to help moms that need it most, just like Teresa was for me. Last year, Teresa and I became coworkers at the same Nurse-Family Partnership chapter where I had been a client.
NN: How did Teresa help you navigate the experience of becoming a new mother? What was the best advice she gave you?
Natausha: Teresa helped me to stay focused on school, provided wisdom when I had concerns about my life and was there for me when I had questions about my baby’s health. A week after my baby was born, I remember being on the couch surrounded by my books, holding my son while studying for finals. I was also working part-time as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). It was a very stressful time, and Teresa helped me come up with a schedule to keep me on track to finish school. I worked hard because I wanted to give my baby things that I did not have growing up.
NN: Can you tell us a little bit about your career trajectory? How long have you been a nurse?
Natausha: I worked as an LPN for eight years before deciding to further my education. I received an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree in 2012, less than three months after the delivery of my son. I then went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in 2016. A week later, I started my job at NFP.
NN: What are the most rewarding parts of working with the NFP?
Natausha: The relationships that I develop with the young moms and their families are so important to me. For some of these clients, I may be the most reliable person they have in their lives, and they look to me for guidance, knowledge on their baby’s health and parenting advice.
NN: What does a typical day as a NFP nurse look like for you?
Natausha: Each day varies, but a home visit typically lasts between an hour and an hour and a half. Today, I may meet with three to four clients – first-time moms and their families – in their homes. Tomorrow, I may be at a training seminar or community awareness function.
NN: How many patients do you work with at one time?
Natausha: Each NFP nurse has a full-time caseload of 25 clients. We see each client on a weekly to bi-weekly basis, depending on which stage of the program they are in.
NN: What would you say to young people interested in pursuing nursing?
Natausha: There are many nursing specialties and numerous career avenues. You have an opportunity to choose which area benefits you and your family’s needs. Gain experience in different areas and pursue those that touch your heart the most. I love being a positive and supportive person in the lives of these young women and children. Working in maternal-child health brings me so much enjoyment that it trickles down to my personal life.
NN: What’s the best nursing advice you’ve ever received?
Natausha: The best nursing advice I have received at NFP is “to meet the clients where they are.” Having a nonjudgmental attitude while caring for these clients is very important. Putting your personal values, beliefs and biases aside and trying to understand your clients’ struggles is a priority.
NN: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Natausha: Becoming a mother has been an amazing and eye-opening experience, filled with various roadblocks. The challenge of juggling being a parent, student and nurse has not been easy, but I have learned to prioritize and understand that things will not always go as planned. My role as the mother of Jayden, my five-year-old son, is by far the most important role I hold. It has led me to find strength within myself that I did not think was possible and has caused me to be my most vulnerable self. I now relate to children differently because I see my son in every child I encounter.
Visit the Nurse-Family Partnership website to learn more about the national program and the public health nurses it employs across 42 states. To learn more about the role of a public health nurse, visit DiscoverNursing.com.