My Journey to Bastyr
There are many times in life when you wonder how you got to where you are. Was it by chance? Was it because it was meant to be? The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was meant to be at Bastyr in order to make a career that I would thrive and be happy in. This was the journey I had to be where I am today!
It all started with going to college. I had initially planned to do the nursing program at a California state university. At this time, I knew I wanted to do something in pediatrics, but I did not know what specifically. I went through some of the prerequisites for pre-nursing and it was really hard. Not only were the classes hard, but it constantly felt like a competition. From the moment that someone starts the nursing program, you work to get points added to your overall score that you end up submitting to the nursing school in order to get in. You got a certain amount of points for passing the classes, taking language classes and doing community service, all before you were even admitted into the program. Even in the pre-nursing classes, students helping each other almost felt like you were helping the enemy, that if you help them get a good grade in this class now, they can come back and take your spot when they are trying to apply for a seat in the program. So, the relationships there were purely based on trying to get the best grades possible. I didn’t really feel connected to the material, and it was really stressful as a first-year student dealing with the stress of passing all my nursing classes.
Toward the spring semester of my first year, I was talking to some other students who were applying to the program. They were stressed, and one of them was crying because this would be their second time applying to the nursing school and she was hoping to get in. While the other options would be to apply to other nursing schools up and down California or out of state, it was still really hard to get into a nursing program. And especially hard in California, as the major was severely impacted. These two students were straight-A students in the honors program and did everything they needed to do in order to look the best on the nursing school applications and still did not get into the program. I was shocked by this and thought, I cannot do this.
I knew that I did not want this profession because it would be terrible to work so hard to get all the straight A's, do the right things and still not make it into the program. I told myself that I needed a better way, that I needed to come up with something that was more attainable and something that I could live with and not be as stressed about. I ended up asking my mentor for advice. I was not happy where I was and told them about the vision of the type of care that I had in mind. This was the first time that I heard the word that would change the course of my career forever.
My mentor had asked me if I knew what a midwife was and I did not. She explained to me that a midwife was someone who helped people give birth outside of hospitals and that she had a midwife for one of her kid's births. I went away from that meeting with a new word in mind, and I went home to do a lot of research in order to see if it was something for me. I also talked to a practicing licensed midwife, and they were the first one to tell me about Bastyr. I remember them telling me that the school was expensive but rigorous with an amazing curriculum and many clinic opportunities. The way that she described midwifery was so beautiful to me. She described it as a more holistic and human way of caring for people. That we are able to keep up with their birth and stay with them the whole duration of their birth without having to switch providers unless necessary. It was nice to know that pregnant people would have the opportunity to have a say in their birth and choose exactly what they wanted even though this was not common in the hospital birth setting. These words stayed with me, and after a little more research on programs and prerequisites, I changed my major to women's studies and set my sights on midwifery programs during my second year of school and onward.
I learned a lot during this time about gender, sex, women's rights and the importance of intersectionality while getting my bachelor's degree. I knew that if something did not work out with the career I was trying to plan that I would end up working for communities with health disparities within low-income communities in some way. This was a major theme in my interview with Bastyr's chair of the midwifery program. This conversation was one of the reasons that I believe got me into Bastyr. I was passionate about LGBTQ+ communities and serving low-income communities through birth work. I could not believe that I got into the program with an email of acceptance a few weeks later. I packed up my things and moved to Bastyr. I was scared, newly out of my bachelor’s and unsure if this was the right step. I reflected on how much I had changed in order to be at Bastyr. I had changed majors and completely changed my path. So many people were worried for me, even myself. But I will never forget that first week being a student midwife on the Bastyr campus, and I was able to do my first pap smear. I had the sudden realization that this is where I needed to be and the information was new and exciting. I really could not get enough of the material for the classes I had to take. All of my classmates were so nice and just as passionate about being here as I was. The solidifying factor was me going to my first birth. I was able to see that I belonged in that space. That I needed to do this work and that it called to me.
Presently, I just got to my second year of being a student midwife, and I can say it goes by so quickly. There are so many things that I think back to now and see that everything leads me back to what I am pursuing now. More and more clues every day have shown me that I was meant to do this work and continue to serve the communities that need midwives. I touch lives every day, even as a student midwife and I want to make a difference one day, big or small. I am glad that I was able to find this profession on a whim. Maybe it was fate, or maybe it was by chance, but regardless of how I got here, I know that I am prepared to do the work. Bastyr's midwifery program is rigorous and the only program of its kind that is a master's degree, but I am here for all of it! I am so proud of myself for how far I have come. So to anyone out there who is looking for a sign, go with what is given to you! You never know where the path may lead. And to my future self, to many more births and self discoveries!
By: Jaida McDonald, Midwifery student