Peace Corps Alumna Becoming a Nurse-Midwife

Posted in GUMC Stories

Caitlin Givens (NHS’11, G’13) is a School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) graduate student who has always had a strong interest in women’s health.

Currently enrolled in the Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program, Givens is also a doula – a nonmedical person who assists women before, during, and after childbirth – and a zumba fitness instructor at Yates Field House on campus. She previously served as a health education officer with the Peace Corps in northeast Senegal.

Through her many experiences in health care, there was one event that solidified her career path into nurse-midwifery.

Profound Calling to Nurse-Midwifery

While in Senegal, Givens was traveling with a family of four on a 13-hour car ride from Dakar back to her site, when the mother asked the driver to pull over.

Shortly after pulling over, Givens – along with an elderly family member – assisted the mother with delivery of her baby on the side of the road.

“I didn’t even know she was pregnant,” said Givens. “When I looked outside the car window, I saw that she was crouched on the ground in pain. That’s when I realized she was about to give birth. I hopped out of the car, and I literally did nothing but catch the baby.”

Following that experience, the women in Senegal now saw Givens as someone with knowledge of delivering babies.

“After that delivery, I was invited to attend the births of two other babies where the midwife allowed me to assist,” Givens said. “People often say that they had a profound calling to midwifery, but I really did. I was doing all of this health work, and then the delivery of a baby on the side of the road happened and I said, ‘okay, I get it, I need to be a midwife.’”

Applying to Georgetown University

With about a year left in Senegal, Givens began researching nurse-midwifery programs, when her older brother, an alumnus of Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School Foreign Service (SFS), encouraged her to look at NHS.

“I was drawn to Georgetown because I knew it had a legacy of having an international-oriented student body and curriculum,“ said Givens. “I also knew D.C. had an abundance of Peace Corps alumni, and it made sense to me to come to here for its international atmosphere.”

Influencing Health

As Givens nears the end of the master’s program, she credits her clinical placements as one of the highlights of the program.

“When patients say it was nice seeing you or I want an appointment with you, I’m reminded that midwifery is what I want to do,” said Givens. “That’s when I know we have established trust and that I can hopefully positively influence their health.”

After completing the program, Givens hopes to make an impact as a nurse-midwife here and abroad.

“I want to be a hospital-based or birth-center-based midwife,” she said. “I want to help bring a more natural, less interventionist environment into the safety of hospitals. Eventually, I see myself getting into training midwives internationally.”

More Information about Givens

Givens attended Skidmore College where she doubled majored in sustainable human development and dance.

She obtained a master’s degree in population health and development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Givens received her bachelor’s degree in nursing through the accelerated second degree program at NHS.

She will complete the Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner Program in 2013.

By Alicia Lee, NHS Communications
(Published August 29, 2012)