An evolution of care

By Megan Bradshaw on December 14, 2017

College of Health Professions winter 2017 graduate Luukia Morin wants to build bridges in the medical field.

Luukia Morin worked as a birth doula for 10 years before enrolling at TU in the nursing department.
Luukia Morin worked as a birth doula for 10 years before enrolling at TU in the nursing department.

Having a child is a turning point in the lives of all new parents, but for Towson University College of Health Professions nursing winter 2017 graduate Luukia Morin it also opened her eyes to a new career path. 

Her mother is a nurse and her father is a doctor, but an “amazing birth experience at a birthing center drew her focus to becoming a birth doula, a career she pursued for 10 years before becoming a full-time nursing student at TU.

Morin waited until her youngest—now eight— was in kindergarten before doing the pre-requisites for nursing school, and the family moved from Philadelphia to be closer to Morin’s husband’s family while she returned to school. Her husband is a project manager for TU’s Office of Technology Services (OTS)

With a decade of work experience behind her, she came to TU knowing she wanted to pursue a course that would lead to work as a nurse-midwife—not a common choice for nursing students. 

“There’s so much in the nursing [curriculum] that sometimes I felt ‘I don’t need this,’ but I had to remind myself that to provide really comprehensive care to people—since giving birth affects every system in the body—I had to learn this too to be the best possible midwife I could be,” she said. 

Morin’s passion for women’s health comes through when she talks about the mentor relationship she has with assistant professor Adriane Burgess and the research they completed. She leans forward, her eyes light up and her manner becomes more animated. 

“In leadership class right now, we’re talking about mentorship, and that has made me realize what a mentor Professor Burgess is for me,” Morin said. “She is my maternal child health teacher and also values things like labor support and practices that aren’t common but are supported by evidence. I think we’re seeing a shift in the medical field that is moving toward evidence-based practice, even if they are not things we see in hospitals right now.”

Morin’s apprenticeships with two home-birth certified professional midwives (CPMs) cemented her desire to help bring hospital and out-of-hospital labor practices together.

“Part of my goal in my career is to build bridges between hospital and out-of-hospital midwives,” she said. “I recognized the knowledge and the value the CPMS have, and I really want to be a bridge-builder in the community.”

She sees that same desire to build connections between different areas of the medical field in Burgess.

“Having a teacher who is supportive is wonderful. I got to with her go to York Hospital where she works, and we sat in on a residents’ meeting. We spoke to them about labor support and getting women up and moving [during delivery]. She helped me have real-world experiences building bridges with nurses and doctors. 

“She also trusted me to work with her to write an IRB to do research over the summer. She allowed me to write, she critiqued me, and she helped me grow confident in my ability to be a labor and delivery nurse in the future. I really appreciate her.”

Together they researched the value of labor support to improve maternal outcomes—continuous emotional, physical, informational and advocacy for families during labor rather than simply hands-on comfort measures. Morin said that while labor support has been shown to reduce Caesarean sections, improve newborn outcomes and shorten labor, it is not taught very often. 

So, Burgess and Morin created a workshop at TU to teach labor support to nursing students before they went to a clinical site. The researchers gathered data before and after the workshop and after clinical rotation to see if the students knew what labor support was, how well the workshop gave them the knowledge they needed, and if they were able to put it into practice at hospitals. 

As Morin reflected on the evolution of her career, from mom to doula to student to teacher and researcher, she has realized she would like eventually to become a professor and mentor to others. 

But for now, she intends to apply to midwifery school after Commencement and then wants to work as a labor and delivery nurse at St. Joseph’s. 

“As a doula, everything is entirely emotional and informational support, but the foundation of nursing I didn’t know before I came here,” Morin said. “I had a lot of experience, but I wasn’t a nurse and didn’t have the nursing way of thinking. What’s really big here is teaching critical thinking and looking at things in a different way. I did not have that knowledge base that I do now. 

“I think one thing our teachers have been really good at is instilling a love of nursing and the profession,” Morin concluded. “I do feel welcome. Our next step is to take our boards. I feel ready for that, and I think it’s cumulative from day one. They’ve done a great job.”