Alumna Spotlight: Kristen Sigler, Nurse-Midwife

Alumna Spotlight: Nurse-Midwifery

Meet Kristen Sigler, a 2022 graduate from the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing’s online MSN Nurse-Midwifery program. Inspired to pursue the field after experiencing a difficult loss and feeling unsupported by providers, Sigler came to understand the unique and vital role that nurse-midwives have in listening to and advocating for women before, during, and after birth.

UC’s online program was the perfect fit for her while she was living overseas, and she found much value in the networking opportunities that allowed her to get involved with the national midwifery community at large. Today, she practices as a nurse-midwife in the Chicago area. We sat down with Kristen to better understand her career and why the online MSN Nurse-Midwifery program from UC’s College of Nursing was the right fit.

Tell us about yourself.

How did you end up pursuing midwifery?

I went into nursing knowing that I wanted to be a midwife, so it was always the plan. But then when I had kids of my own and didn’t have the greatest healthcare experiences with physicians and felt invalidated, that was really my catalyst. That’s when I thought, “Now is the time — I’m going to do this so I can provide good care to women, and listen to them.”

Was there a specific moment or event that triggered the desire to enter this field — nursing or midwifery?

Prior to having my own kids, I got to be present for the birth of one of my friend’s children, and she had a midwife. That friend ended up needing a cesarean, and her midwife was able to stay with her through the whole thing. I loved the continuous support she got, and that is what initially inspired me.

I actually decided to take the plunge and go back to school when I had my own children. Specifically, I had a loss, and I felt like the providers weren’t very empathetic or didn’t listen, dismissed my concerns, and it turned into an emergency.

It was a very scary time. As a care provider, the first thing you should be doing is listening to your patient and understanding where they’re coming from. I thought — I can listen, I can be with women and hear their experiences — so that already gives me a leg up.

Let’s talk about your career specifically.

What’s been your favorite part of being a nurse-midwife?

I love being with people in labor and then helping them deliver their babies — obviously, that’s one of my favorites.

I also love the education aspect of it — doing the annual exams and getting the chance to teach people about their bodies and how to best care for them. For the longest time, talking about women’s health was taboo. It’s nice to be able to have open, frank discussions with people.

Are there any other moments of validation you have about pursuing this career?

I have moments of validation every so often, where I see a patient and think: “I really was meant to be here; this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I was supposed to be in this spot to help this person.”

My most recent example is when I had a patient with an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the pregnancy is outside of the uterus. It can be an emergency and be life-threatening. I was the one that had diagnosed it.

I had had an ectopic pregnancy and almost bled to death myself, so I was not only able to diagnose her and tell her what to expect, but also able to talk about my personal experience and provide comfort and understand where her fears were coming from since I had lived it.

She later told me how great it was to hear my personal experience because it helped her not feel so alone. She said it was nice to hear my story and how I was able to go on to have another child, and it wasn’t the end of my fertility. She had somebody to whom she could ask those questions.

What about your experience  at the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing

Why did you choose the online nursing programs at UC?

When I was looking to start my degree, I was living in Spain, so I needed a distance learning program. I compared UC’s online nursing programs with other universities’ — the lower cost, and flexibility of not having to be on campus checked all my boxes. But the biggest catalyst was my friend — she was in the UC program and spoke very highly of it.

Was the faculty able to accommodate the time difference with you living in Spain?

Yes, most of it was just deadlines for assignments, but with the flexibility of online you could do the work on your own time. All my professors knew I was living overseas and were very accommodating. In fact, the program director would even coordinate with my preceptor around clinic hours at what must have been some early morning calls because of the time difference.

Can you describe your experience with your program?

Overall, my experience with the program was wonderful. I love the program. I feel like it prepared me to be in practice, prepared me for boards, and really set me up to succeed.

Were there any other advantages of pursuing your degree online?

It helped with the flexibility of where you live, and also made it work with your life schedule. I was raising two kids when I went to school, so being able to work it in with what I already had going on in life really helped.

What was an unexpected benefit you discovered while going through the program or after you graduated?

The networking. I knew I would network with the people in the same cohort, but I feel like networking with the faculty, and even faculty that I didn’t have a class with — everyone made themselves so available. I still use a lot of those people as resources. That was an unexpected, pleasant surprise.

What did networking look like?

The faculty would set up different midwifery meetings that you could attend so you could get involved in the midwifery community. Not all the networking I did was at UC, but was in the midwifery community at large. UC gave tons of opportunities to get involved in different specialty areas and projects, like political action communities and other national organizations. I found a lot of networking there.

Does the experience you gained through the online nurse-midwifery program at UC set you apart in the workplace?

I feel like doing the online program has made me very resourceful. I know where to find the evidence for the things I’m talking about. I learned to use my scholarly resources. I think it has prepared me very well.

What advice would you give someone considering becoming a nurse-midwife?

I would advise people to evaluate their motivations for becoming a nurse-midwife. I think a lot of people think it’s always sunshine and rainbows and babies, but there are a lot of hard, heartbreaking aspects and a lot of sacrificing time with your family for call shifts.

I am also a big believer that before you jump into anything or commit, it’s a really good idea to shadow somebody in that position and see if what you’re envisioning is really what it is. That gives you a leg-up later when you are needing to find preceptors — if you’ve shown interest prior to going to school.

Do you have any other advice for any new or prospective students?

If you’ve done your soul searching and you’re committed — apply. Beyond that, my biggest advice would be to find your support system and don’t be afraid to lean on them because there might be days when you need to study extra, and you might need someone to watch your kids, or you work an on-call shift and you need to take a nap. You need to know who’s in your corner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Feeling inspired to pursue an advanced degree in nurse-midwifery?

Take a look at our master’s programs to see how you can achieve your goals with a degree from UC. Ready to start advancing your career today? Start your online application.

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