Northeast Iowa Doulas | Celebrating National Nurses Week | Meet a L&D Nurse/Patient Educator

It's National Nurses Week!

In celebration of National Nurses week we are featuring some of the best nurses Eastern Iowa has to offer. As this special week comes to a close, we are so excited to introduce this wonderful nurse to you.

Tracey Huinker is a registered nurse (RN) and works at Allen Women's Health in Waterloo. She works in the clinical setting as a patient educator and also works as a labor and delivery nurse at Unity Point-Allen Hospital on an as-needed basis. 
I have known Tracey for several years now and she is one of the most kind and nurturing women I have ever met. She is such a joy to be around, and her smile lights up the room. 

If you haven't had the opportunity to meet Tracey yet, you're missing out!

NEID-Kaity: How long have you been a nurse? Where did you attend school?

Tracey: I started my college education with a Bachelor's Degree in Women's Health Promotion at UNI. After being a sexual health educator for a year, I decided I wanted more direct care with patients and went back to school at Hawkeye Community College for my RN degree. I still can't believe it, but in July, I will have been a nurse for 11 years.

NEID-Kaity: What inspired you to become a nurse?

Tracey: I would say "technically" my internship through UNI really sparked my interest in a career in nursing. Although, I think subconsciously, my mother played a huge role! She was a labor and delivery nurse for years and continues to practice as a women's health ARNP.

NEID-Kaity: How did you become interested in this line of nurse work?

Tracey: Besides my mother, I really think my internship in college drove me to birth work. Part of my internship was attending a variety of childbirth classes, because many childbirth educators at that time had Health Promotion degrees. I remember being so fascinated by everything! I probably attended 10-15 classes, and they all covered the same basic material, but I remember learning something new at each class. I just LOVED it! 
Now I really appreciate how birth can transform women and hopefully give them strength to conquer other challenges in life.

NEID-Kaity: What do you enjoy most about being a L&D nurse and working in the Women's Health Clinic?

Tracey: My roles in the clinic and L&D are very different, but I love them both! I feel like working as a L&D nurse really "fills my bucket", I guess. Welcoming new babies (and parents) into this world is such a pleasure and honor. In the clinic setting, I have the privilege of sitting down with women one-on-one during their pregnancy for educational sessions. I really enjoy getting to know clinic patients throughout their pregnancy and helping them develop a plan for their birth and for when they bring baby home from the hospital. Of course, the best is when I have the opportunity to care for my clinic patient during their labor!

NEID-Kaity: What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?

Tracey: Although pregnancy, birth, and parenthood are all amazing and can bring so much joy, not everyone is so fortunate. We encounter a lot of tough situations as nurses and sometimes there's not a lot we can do about it. I think sometimes the most challenging part of nursing is just not having the answers for families when they ask, "Why me?"

NEID-Kaity: More expecting parents in the area are hiring out the professional support services of a birth doula and/or postpartum & infant care doula. How do you feel about that?

Tracey: Doulas are amazing! We know that women and families who choose doulas, often have healthier outcomes at their birth and a more positive perspective of their experience. Having worked briefly as a birth doula myself, I definitely appreciate how hard it is to be in that role! It is a demanding profession which requires a vast knowledge of the birth process, a strong work ethic, and a deep dedication to their clients. As a L&D nurse, I love working and learning alongside doulas!

NEID-Kaity: What is one thing you always say to your patients?

Tracey: I think the one thing I always tell patients is to trust their intuition. Each pregnancy and birth is so unique that it really can boggle your mind if you constantly compare pregnancies or birth stories looking for the "right answer" or what is "normal." 

NEID-Kaity: What advice would you give an expecting parent as they are approaching their due date?

Tracey: Oh those last weeks! (I remember them all too well!) I try to encourage patience, but I know that is really easier said than done. I guess I also encourage moms to enjoy those last weeks, if at all possible. Enjoy every last little twist and turn of baby, every last hiccup they do. Soon this pregnancy will just be another memory tucked away.

NEID-Kaity: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Tracey: Well, I'm a wife and mother of three, so my free time is usually spent in the sand box or playing dinosaurs! I guess I would also say I'm a political junkie and I also enjoy running....you know...during all my down-time away from the kiddos! :-)

NEID-Kaity: What is your favorite food?

Tracey: Just one?? Hmm....let's just say sweets. Any form. :-)

NEID-Kaity: Please share a favorite memory with us about a time at work.

Tracey: Oh wow, I have definitely been blessed with many great memories from my patients and great co-workers! I think the best, though, is being able to care for a family with their subsequent births. 
Having formed that relationship during their first birth and being able to jump back into it with a second delivery is just so great. Having that connection with a family really helps create a peaceful, beautiful experience for everyone.


Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed, Tracey. We appreciate the knowledge, experience and expertise you offer new and expecting families in the Cedar Valley and are so grateful to have the honor of working alongside you. 
Happy National Nurses Week!

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