Hands-On OB Experience Prepares Southeast Students for Nursing Careers


Southeast Missouri State University nursing students complete about 860 hours of clinical requirements during their junior and senior years, but none may be more pivotal than their obstetrics (OB) rotation.

At Saint Francis Medical Center, students work alongside nursing staff to provide safe, quality patient care in five OB service areas, including antepartum and labor, postpartum, newborn nursery, a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for preterm babies, and in a shadowing experience of midwives and nurse practitioners at Cape Care for Women.

During the OB clinical rotation, the students learn how to care for new mothers, newborns and their families during this special time in their lives. The students learn how to provide support during labor, delivery and postpartum periods; perform nursing assessments; and review and report on different diagnoses and procedures.

Dr. Moretta Burk, instructor of nursing for maternal-newborn lecturing and the OB clinical rotation, said her students frequently comment that attending deliveries is their favorite part of this clinical rotation. It is an incredible experience for them to be allowed in the room when a baby is born, she said.

“The amount of knowledge you gain from being here is amazing,” said Abigail Fischer, a junior nursing major and psychology minor from Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. “This morning, I saw a C-section, and when you are a part of something like this, you are way more prepared than just reading about it in a textbook, and that’s really what counts. You get to do it yourself, and that’s what matters.”

Nursing student clinical rotations cover a wide range of health issues and age demographics, including adult health, hospital administration and management, child care and obstetrics.

The hands-on experiential learning that occurs in the clinical setting is crucial for the student’s academic and professional success, Burk said.

“Nursing is complimentary parts of theory and clinical,” she said. “Students learn about the maternal/child concepts in the classroom setting, and then they have an opportunity to put those theoretical concepts into a variety of psychological, psychomotor and mental skills in clinical.”

Samantha Moeller, a senior nursing major from Red Bud, Illinois, agreed.

“It’s one thing for me to read than to actually see it done with a patient,” Moeller said. “It really helps it set in the importance of what we’re being taught in the classroom. I can learn it and read it, but once I actually see it and do it, that’s when it actually sticks.”

Southeast nursing students Alan Miller of East Prairie, Missouri, and Krystina Jackson of Cape Girardeau, comfort a baby in Saint Francis Medical Center’s newborn nursery.

Putting patients first is a priority for Fischer, and she says every clinical experience offers her  an opportunity to learn how to better communicate with patients.

“I want to help people who can’t help themselves and who need something more,” she said. “I feel like that’s what the nurses are. You’re the advocate for the patient. You’re the one they’re going to turn to, and you’re the one the patient is going to call when something is wrong.”

The students also observe how the nurses communicate and support one another, said Burk. They learn about the hospital environment and the teamwork that is involved with maternal/child nursing.

“You really get to see how a hospital works, and how the nurses talk to each other and to the patients,” said Fischer, who remembers when she first started how nerve-wracking it was to knock on a patient’s door for the first time. “That’s something I feel is the most beneficial is to see that interaction.”

It’s about being one big team, said Moeller.

“My first day we had a mom that was getting ready to deliver, and there wasn’t just one or two nurses, but 10 or 12 all there supporting her, being there for the mom, and it takes a big team for something like that to occur,” she said.

Her experiences during the OB clinical rotation have made her consider going into this field/specialty, Fischer said.

For Moeller, who will be a third-generation nurse in her family, she’s been waiting for this opportunity since her first day at Southeast.

“This is something near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I’m happy knowing I found a place where I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life.”

Top Photo Caption: Southeast Nursing student Samantha Moeller (right) performs nursing assessments under the supervision of a professional nursing staff on a baby in Saint Francis Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.