Barbara A. Hotelling

My passion for mothering, service and nursing goes back as far as I can remember. When other little girls were collecting Barbie dolls, I wanted the kind of doll that you could hold and sing to. My favorite doll was one you could feed and she would wet her diaper. She had the fuzziest, softest hair. But she died a quick and painless death when I fed her milk. The stench of sour milk emanating from her tiny body was terrible. Maybe that's when I figured out I needed to know more about health promotion.

My orientation to volunteerism and service was evident in my high school Girl Scout troop that was mentor troop to disadvantaged girls at a local elementary school. I visited children in their homes to assist with reading skills once a week and I volunteered as a Candy Striper. The high school social organizations of the 50's were transformed into service organizations in the 60's due to huge problems with drinking within the social organizations. I, of course, participated in the many service projects our group selected.

I always wanted to be a nurse. I don't know where that came from but I was really certain of what I wanted to do when I entered the University of North Carolina in 1967. I wanted to be a pediatric nurse and work with schoolchildren. Experiences with dying and seriously ill children in the university hospital and the inattention to school health by the public health system at that time diverted my attention to teaching. I taught in a LPN program, married, became pregnant and left nursing formally for 17 years to be with my family that grew to 5 children.

The day I enrolled the eldest in a nearby university and the youngest in kindergarten was the end of my lovely retirement. I regained experience and knowledge in nursing by working in an OB/GYN office and then as a visiting homecare nurse. These experiences gave me the growth I needed as a background for my continuing education. It took me several years to gain confidence in my skills but when the time came to go back to school, I wasn't worried.

During those years as an at-home mother I became interested in Lamaze education and support of the birthing family. I became a Lamaze educator and a doula and those years of raising children were interspersed with volunteerism in local and national organizations for childbirth education and doula service. I fell in love with continuous emotional labor support and with the support of my husband and several co-op babysitting groups, I was able to attend births and teach Lamaze classes. During these years of learning, I became seriously aware of the importance of support and education during the transition to parenthood. I learned of the effects on our society when children receive poor nutrition, poor healthcare and detached parenting. I read, I studied and I published articles related to my growing knowledge of Lamaze education and doula work. I volunteered on boards of national organizations, Doulas of North America (DONA), The Coalition For Improving Maternity Services (CIMS) and Lamaze, International, in an effort to promote more doula services and education for families. Locally I volunteered as a doula and doula trainer and became an independent childbirth educator to be able to provide evidence-based and balanced birth, parenting and breastfeeding information.

I mentored and was mentored by passionate people in the birth world and I continued to learn and to teach. From my work with the Lamaze Board of Directors, I met and befriended two professors at Seton Hall University. At a time in my life when my children were mostly grown and I was challenged to figure out how to use my nursing skills in the future with a young heart and an aging body, these women encouraged me to enter the Women's Health Nurse Practitioner program at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. No matter that I didn't have the time or the money and that I lived in Michigan; they said I could do it. I'm beginning my second year of study and I'm absolutely loving it. The online program has motivated me to dig for the information I need to provide healthcare as a nurse practitioner in the field I have been passionate about since my early days with my dolls. When I complete the program and pass the certification exam, I am looking forward to combining my skills and learning to provide comprehensive healthcare to women of all ages. I also plan to continue to fulfill my need to serve. I recently read of a NP who has found the means to provide healthcare to our sisters and brothers without insurance. She was offended, as I am, by the fact that lack of insurance promotes early death and decreased quality of life for an ever increasing number of people. I plan to be, as she is, a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem in our society that seems to promote survival of the fittest.

I am grateful for the scholarship to continue my nurse practitioner studies. This scholarship enables me to complete the requirements necessary to provide the kind of quality care that will benefit the society I live in. I am extremely grateful to have the mentoring and the opportunity to look forward to my future in nursing. Thank you.