“I feel like I can focus more on the patient.”

Jodi Casper, St. Mary’s Family Birth Center Nurse

Jodi Casper was just ten years old when an automobile accident sent her to the hospital for three weeks. She had a fractured femur, so her injured leg was suspended with all sorts of wires and weights. She spent six weeks inside a body cast and became way too familiar with reclining wheelchairs and walkers. Throughout the ordeal, the fifth grader had extra time on her hands to observe her surroundings—plus plenty of interactions with the hospital staff.

“I came to appreciate what it meant to be a nurse,” says Casper. Afterward, she pretty much decided that was exactly what she wanted to do someday. “I never deviated from that—ever.”

Thanks to that chapter in her life, Casper also developed a strong empathy for patients and their health care experiences. When it came time to decide on a nursing specialty, she knew it would be one with an emphasis on bedside care. That, coupled with a fascination for “the miracle of birth,” as she puts it, eventually led her to labor and delivery.

She’s been a St. Mary’s Family Birth Center nurse since 2004, and her varied duties on a twelve-hour shift include labor and delivery support, postpartum and nursery care, and rotations through triage, which is equipped to handle a significant level of high-risk care.

“Our senses fluctuate like an ER,” Casper says. And as in an emergency room, no day is typical. “We really are on our toes.”

Casper’s smile widens when she talks about the women and families she’s cared for—and is quick to point out that each birth involves not one patient but two—both mother and baby (or babies as is sometimes the case).

“I’ve always loved newborns,” she says. “To visualize that baby inside and the journey it went through—it’s just so surreal.”

Casper says the changes in technology—like 3-D ultrasounds and electronic records system—learning curves aside—have been mostly positive.

“I feel like I can focus more on the patient,” she says.

And, she says, her department benefits greatly from a diverse nursing staff that includes a wide range of ages and experience.

“We learn from older nurses the techniques to support the patient; younger nurses help with technology,” she says. “I love the people I work with.”

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