Setting mothers up for success in the Mother Baby Care Unit
Emma Mueller gained a top-tier education at the UI College of Nursing, but no amount of classwork could prepare her for everything.
“I’ve only been a nurse for just over a year,” says Mueller, BSN, RN, who works in the Mother Baby Care Unit (MBCU). “I think a lot of times in nursing school, they teach you the skills, but the emotional aspect of care is really something you learn on the job.”
Not long ago, while working on a particularly difficult case, one of Mueller’s colleagues caught an up-close view of her compassionate manner. The care she witnessed prompted her to nominate Mueller for a DAISY Award.
“Emma provided extraordinary compassion and displayed the utmost respect and empathy to a mother who had a baby admitted to the NICU but ultimately died shortly thereafter,” the colleague says. “Emma rose to the occasion to make sure this mother was taken care of after her C-section even when the mother’s focus was on her sick baby. Emma went out of her way to give this mother all the time she wanted, adapting to the needs of the mother and the NICU team. Emma brought pain meds, water, and a bag of postpartum essentials for the mom so she could stay with her baby. Emma’s interaction with the grieving mother was very sweet and gentle.”
“A lot of times with labor and delivery and postpartum care, the focus is on the baby,” Mueller says. “But the mom is my patient, too. I want to make sure she’s a priority. Just because the baby is here doesn’t mean her care is over. She’s still her own person. I try to make sure she knows we’re thinking about her.”
Figuring it out for herself
Since Mueller’s mother and grandmother are both nurses, one might think they were the ones who drew her into the profession. However, that isn’t the case.
“Growing up, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career,” she says. “I took a medical terminology class in high school. My teacher was super passionate about medicine and health care, and that drew me to the field. I ended up getting my nursing assistant license when I was in high school.”
Ultimately, that led Mueller to work in women’s health. She views herself as not just a caregiver, but also a guide for families with newborns.
“We help them recover physically, but we also get them ready to go home and take care of their baby,” Mueller says. “There is a ton of education involved in how to care for a human, both physically and emotionally. There are a lot of different factors that come with it. Obviously, their own bodies are healing; they’re going home to families, sometimes other kids; and eventually they might have to go back to their jobs. Our job is to make sure we set them up for success.”
A solid support system
As a nurse still early in her career, Mueller realizes she has much to learn. For mentorship and support during challenging moments, she turns to her colleagues.
“What really helps me stay positive at work are the people I work with,” she says. “I have such a good relationship with my team. I truly get excited about going to work and seeing them. I have such a good support system here.”
For Mueller, UI Hospitals & Clinics is an excellent place to hone her skills as a nurse. Although she enjoys praise from her colleagues, it’s the words of her patients that ring true.
“I work the night shift,” Mueller says. “So, in the morning when doctors make their rounds and my patients say, ‘Oh, she took such great care of me overnight,’ that makes me feel really special.”