At the heart of Frontier Nursing University is a talented and diverse community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, Couriers and preceptors. Spotlight blogs feature members of our FNU community that are focused on the mission of educating nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to deliver quality health care to underserved and rural populations.
Tiffany Jackson graduated from Frontier Nursing University (FNU) in 2007. In her early career, she worked as an obstetrics nurse in a hospital, but there weren’t any nurse-midwives present. It was earlier, during clinical training in nursing school, that one patient had opened her mind to another way of thinking about birth.
The patient she observed chose to go through labor without the common types of support. Tiffany typically saw most mothers at the hospital hooked up with IVs and epidurals, but this mother was laboring with only the support of her husband, Tiffany, and Tiffany’s nursing preceptor on the unit.
Tiffany describes the mother as being “very Zen–just breathing through her contractions,” which inspired her. She wanted to provide care for women who would have relationships with their providers and options for how they would give birth. Tiffany envisioned a relationship where she would offer expert guidance and provide information, while the woman would make informed choices about her own body and her baby. Tiffany decided that as a nurse-midwife she could reach more women and help them have better birth experiences.
Tiffany chose FNU because the distance education model worked well for her as an independent learner. She explored different options, but was drawn to the heritage and the strong history of FNU–and the amazing Kitty Ernst. Tiffany says of her career choice, “It’s not for the faint of heart. You do it because you have a passion, not to get rich. You have to love women, and sometimes it’s hard, emotionally demanding and exhausting.”
In 2014, Tiffany accepted a position with MomDoc, a privately-owned obstetrics practice in Arizona that was started by physicians. They started with physician assistants and women’s health nurses in the clinics. The practice has grown to 20 branches, three of which now have certified nurse-midwives. The nurse-midwives practice with hospital privileges to offer full-scope midwifery care to women.
Since becoming a nurse-midwife, Tiffany has attended more than 1,000 births. She respects each mother’s choice and believes women should have personalized birth experiences. She recently attended a birth with a family having their seventh child. The parents brought in their 12-year-old daughter to assist with the delivery and welcome the new baby into the world.
MomDoc nurse-midwives precept midwifery students in the clinics, and some of Tiffany’s colleagues are also FNU alumni. She says they joke about getting t-shirts that say, “Team FNU.”
MomDoc has a mentoring program for new midwives who join the practice, which transitions them through what is called the “Circle of Safety.” In the mentoring stage, each new midwife must complete 30 deliveries. They have an additional three months where they can call their mentors for help and advice. Tiffany credits one of her FNU preceptors, Dr. Kim Couch, for helping her make that transition earlier in her career.
“Some midwives may have been expert nurses, but they are new to the role of nurse-midwifery,” said Tiffany. “So, they have to ‘hang in there’ and not be afraid to ask for help in their new role.”
Tiffany is considering pursuing a doctorate when her children are older, and possibly opening a birth center business with a friend and colleague who is also a certified nurse-midwife. Tiffany’s mother has an MBA, and Tiffany imagines her mom handling the business affairs of the practice.
“Someday, I would love to be in a birth center and attend out-of-hospital births,” Tiffany said. “That’s what FNU trains us for, and I’d love to be able to support home or birth-center deliveries.”
The FNU community is proud to have alumni like Tiffany who are passionate about helping women make informed choices that lead to better birth experiences. Go Team FNU!