Corrie Secord is the first to admit that her path to midwifery was a rambling one. “I was a senior in high school when 9/11 occurred and was already set up to enlist when it happened,” said Secord.“The military was a way for my brothers and me to go to college.” With a large family of six, money was always a little scarce. “We knew we would have to find our own way,” Secord recalled.
The youngest and only daughter in the family, Secord saw how the military had positively influenced her three older brothers. “You are pushed to be the best you can be. It provides the opportunity to experience big adventures within boundaries so you can excel. Cheering you on and demanding that you don’t fail.”
Be All That You Can Be is Not Just a Slogan
For Secord, the US Air Force has turned out to be one of the country’s best-kept secrets. It has allowed her to learn, and earn a livable wage and multiple degrees, “all while providing direction.”
Her first assignment was in Anchorage, Alaska, as a medic working in women’s health. Half-way through her tour, she went to the Labor & Delivery unit. “I was 20 years old and got to work full time helping women give birth. The experience convinced me that I wanted to become a Labor & Delivery nurse.” At 22, she decided to go to nursing school and transferred to the National Guard. In ’09 she graduated with an Associate of Nursing Degree, then enrolled at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE, and graduated with her BSN in 2012. All of her education was covered under the G.I. Bill of Rights and state military tuition assistance. “I was a little older than the other students when I started clinicals and was ready to take my studies seriously.”
Midwifery Philosophy Resonated
After her bachelor’s in nursing degree, she was stationed in the Florida Panhandle where she was introduced to midwives and the patient-centered philosophy of midwifery. Then onto Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Texas. For Secord, the differences between midwifery care and traditional Labor & Delivery were glaring. “OB residents seemed to want to control the birth process rather than let the patient be in control. I knew there was a more natural way and wanted to be a part of that,” said Secord.
Because the military is a very hierarchical system, “we are trained to listen to those above us.” She realized that for her voice and that of her patients to be heard, she needed to attain a more advanced degree. One that would put her on the same, if not higher rank, than the physicians around her. “By earning my doctoral degree, I will have the authority and title to teach residents.”
36-Month Program Earning MS and DNP
In 2018, she applied and was accepted for the Air Force Institute of Technology Advanced Practice Nursing Scholarship. It’s an intense process that includes putting together a comprehensive package of accomplishments, an interview, and a selection board. After four painful months of waiting, Secord’s commander called with the good news that she was one of only two nurse-midwives in the country to receive a scholarship to earn her Doctor of Nursing Practice specializing in nurse-midwifery. She chose the University of Colorado College of Nursing, and in 2019 began her 36-month journey from BS to DNP, earning an MS specializing in midwifery, as well as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner post-graduate certificate, and the rank of “Major” along the way. Her master’s degree will be conferred in May and her DNP in August of 2022.