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Not Just a Nurse: A Story of Our Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program

posted on Wednesday, August 8, 2018

cmiller“A lot of these moms do not have strong family supports…so they need someone in their life who’s saying, ‘Yeah, you can do this. You’re not alone,’” says Carrie Miller, a nurse with HCI Care Services & Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) program.

The program helps clients establish healthy habits in preparation for their babies by matching a newly pregnant woman with a home-visiting nurse like Miller, who checks in with the family until the child turns 2 years old.

“We're talking about their nutrition during pregnancy, prenatal appointments, all the healthy habits of preparing to have their baby,” Miller says.

Pictured: Carrie Miller, RN, HCI Care Services & Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa’s Nurse-Family Partnership program.

Many of the program’s clients are immigrants or refugees. Often, they don’t speak English. And many are teenagers.

One young woman, still in high school and expecting her baby, shared dreams of becoming a nurse.

“She thought this was the end of her dreams,” says Miller. “But we started meeting, and she realized, ‘No, I can keep going.’ So, she graduated from NFP and she started a CNA program. Now she’s in nursing school.”

Miller points out that her work is much more than talking about prenatal appointments, nutrition, and what to expect during delivery.

“We’re talking about many different areas of their lives. I’m not giving medicine; I’m not giving shots. But I am doing physical assessments, developmental screenings and education,” Miller says. “And also the non-nursing things.”

“I’ve done things I never thought I would do as a nurse,” Miller says. “If their garbage disposal is smoking, what do you do? How to answer questions about car loans…bed bugs…rodent issues...”

Some families don’t know how to make doctor’s appointments or pick up medications, so Miller provides guidance.

“If you want to do this kind of nursing, you have to be really passionate about people and willing to really go with the flow.”

But in the end, it’s worth it, Miller notes.

“It’s a very rewarding place to be because [we] get to see the change in these families. We get to see them grow up.”

Click here to learn about career opportunities with HCI Care Services & VNS of Iowa.

This story is an edited excerpt of a piece written by Drake University student Sierra Burgos.