My beginnings: Tanya Vaughn, CNM, FNP-BC

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This story was originally published in Panacea, Winter 2018.

Tanya Vaughn is dully certified as a nurse midwife and a family nurse practitioner working at Partridge Creek OBGYN in Macomb, Michigan. She earned her BSN from the University of Michigan-Flint then went on to the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor to earn her dual midwife/family nurse practitioner degree, where she was a Terri Murtland scholarship recipient in 2010. She earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Wayne State University-Detroit. This is the story of her journey in her own words. 

I had always wanted to be a nurse, however, after I had two children I pushed aside my desire to be a nurse to care for my family. I was a single mom working in a dental office and did not see a way to attend college. One day a patient failed to show up for one of her appointments, so I called to check on her. This call changed my life.

The patient started crying and telling me that she was a busy nurse who forgot about her appointment. She talked about how the world needs more qualified and caring nurses. Little did she know she was speaking directly to my heart and soul.

As I thought about where I was in life, I realized that I could make nursing school a reality. I called the academic counselors at the University of Michigan the very next day and was immediately enrolled at UMSN due to the timing of the semester. I was so worried that I would not fit in as I was not a “traditional” student. I stood in front of the school on my first day of class and paused to think about what was in store for my day.  I was surprised to see such wonderful diversity of students in my class. Some were straight out of high school and some were not. One of my fellow students was a grandmother! My mind was put to ease as I was respected as a student who was working full-time with children.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program was intense and was demanding of my time. The days were tough as I worked two part-time jobs in order to have flexibility with my class and clinical schedule. Sometimes, I would sit in the back of the class with my baby and toddler trying to keep them busy with snacks and toys as I learned the theoretical underpinnings of nursing. I was like a sponge—soaking up all the knowledge I could get from my amazing UMSN professors and instructors.

When I got home in the evenings I would put my kids to bed and then get to the work of studying and preparing for the next class or clinical experience. It was a difficulty time for me. . I missed my kid; I was sleep deprived; I was working as many hours as possible at my job; and there was so much to learn in nursing school every day.

As graduation approached, I began working as a graduate nurse on a cardiac unit. While I learned a great deal about caring for people, I realized that my passion was women’s health. A year and a half after graduation I started working as a nurse in labor and delivery at the University of Michigan Family Birth Center. I immediately knew that I was doing what I was meant to do. I realized how nurses support women during their labor and have a meaningful birth. I was able to observe how nurse-midwives function, and found a deep connection related to the care that’s provided to women and their families.

One night I had the honor of caring for a woman who was experiencing a relatively fast labor. Her provider was called to the room, but the baby didn’t want to wait. I was left to assist with the birth of her child!This moment called to my spirit. I had experienced this calling when I applied to the BSN program. I had a discussion with Lisa Kane Low PhD, CNM who was the director of the nurse-midwifery program the next day and was admitted to the nurse-midwifery program at UMSN shortly thereafter.

When I graduated from the nurse-midwifery program I realized that I was in a perfect position to change women’s lives. I can offer education about choices available, while protecting their autonomy within a circle of safety. I can provide evidence-based care that improves health outcomes for the women I serve. I currently work as a full-scope nurse-midwife in southeast Michigan improving women’s lives one encounter at a time. I know that I make positive differences every day.