Jessica Dean, BSN, was long intrigued by the field of nurse-midwifery, but the birth of her daughter made her a true believer.
“With my son, I had an obstetrician. With my daughter, I had a midwife. It was like night and day in terms of the level of care I received,” she says. “My midwife was so compassionate and loving, and wanted the best for me. I just decided ‘You know what? I want to do this for other women and help them feel empowered and have the birthing experience I always wanted.’”
Dean characterizes the experience of giving birth with a nurse-midwife’s guidance as “life-changing.” She patronized a birthing center in Wichita Falls, Texas, where she experienced a water birth to alleviate back pain she suffered through her pregnancy.
“I didn’t know if I could do it, but once I got in the water, I was able to cope,” she says. “When you feel you can’t go on, there are people who will encourage you in the best way. I think just having the right birthing team will give you that positive birthing experience.”
Family life influenced career path
Born and raised in Detroit, Mich., Dean remembers watching the reality TV series “A Baby Story” with her mother as a child. The show followed families through the late days of their pregnancies. Dean admired the doctors, nurses, and midwives profiled in the series.
“I used to tell my mom ‘That’s going to be me one day,” she says. “My ultimate goal in life is to be of service to other people and to give the type of care that everyone deserves. That’s why I became a nurse.”
After getting married, Dean and her growing family moved to Texas, New Jersey, Seattle, and Oklahoma in pursuit of her husband’s military career. She relocated many times since she earned her BSN from a nursing school in New Jersey. Her husband is currently stationed in the U.S. Army post in Fort Carson, just south of Colorado Springs.
Why she chose CU Nursing
Hoping to find more permanence in Colorado and with her career, Dean discovered the Nurse-Midwifery Program at the University of Colorado College of Nursing. She began her course of study in September 2022 by participating in classes both online and in-person.
“The website and the mission statement really rolled me in,” she says. “I wanted to be at a college that really understood and encompassed diversity. For me, that was huge. I just wanted to go somewhere where I’d be welcomed and encouraged. I wanted to go somewhere where I’d get the level of knowledge and skills to pursue my dreams of becoming a nurse-midwife.”
The Nurse-Midwifery program encompasses the values of diversity, inclusion, and cultural responsiveness. It prepares the next generation of midwives to lead and transform the delivery of healthcare through excellence in clinical practice, education and research.
So far, Dean says she loves the program and is impressed that the faculty has so many practicing nurse-midwives onboard. She’s particularly impressed with CU Nursing Director of Midwifery Services and Associate Professor Jessica Anderson, DNP, CNM.
“One of the things I really enjoy is that Dr. Anderson has guest speakers – who are also certified midwives – talk about their experiences and give presentations on different topics,” she says. “Every time I leave class, I feel so empowered. It’s such an amazing profession and you can really see the compassion and enthusiasm of the speakers who talk about their careers.”
What’s next for Dean?
Between parenting two young children, attending CU Nursing and starting a new job as a labor and delivery nurse at Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo, Colo., Dean expects to be extremely busy over the next few years. But she still hopes to find time to roller-skate and always wakes up early to complete her morning exercise routine.
In the longer-term, she aspires to open her own community birthing center.
“I want to help the underserved population and really contribute to decreasing the maternal mortality rate among African American women – because it’s huge right now,” she says. “A lot of Black women feel more comfortable with a provider who looks like them. I want to be that for someone. There’s a lot of research about how many African American women don’t feel heard. I want to do the best I can to try to eliminate that situation by practicing as a nurse-midwife.”