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DNP Student Profile: Sarah Enteen

Doctor of Nursing Practice Midwifery Program ‘20

I feel proud to be a member of the health care workforce during these uncertain times and to have the skills to contribute to the efforts in one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As a certified nurse midwife, Sarah Enteen ’20, also a 2017 graduate of the Columbia Nursing Masters Direct Entry program, is passionate about blending her scientific, clinical education with her care for humanity. She is also deeply committed to advocating for health care equity and the elimination of disparities in perinatal and overall health outcomes for underserved and marginalized communities.


Please tell us about yourself—from what program are you graduating and where are you originally from?

I graduated from Columbia Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Midwifery Program. I grew up in Florida and North Carolina and moved to New York City eight years ago to participate in a year of service with AmeriCorps. I then worked for several years as a health education specialist in a community health center, while pursuing my master’s degree in public health. I concentrated on community health and maternal health policy and wrote my thesis on the need for a life-course approach to maternal health with a commitment to ensuring increased health equity and accessibility. Although I have a strong public health identity, my heart has always been in midwifery and direct patient care. I chose to attend Columbia to make that a reality.  


Why did you decide to pursue nursing and why did you choose Columbia Nursing?

I gained an appreciation and respect for the field of nursing after working closely with a team of nurses and other clinical staff at the community health center. Both nursing and midwifery blend science with care for humanity. This blend will inform my practice as a midwife, as I help patients understand complex health information and make informed choices that best serve their individual physical, social, and cultural needs. I chose Columbia because I was drawn to its focus on evidence-based research and its application of this research to clinical practice. I also loved being among a cohort of students whose different professional backgrounds gave them a diverse set of perspectives. Most importantly, I was impressed with Columbia’s midwifery program, particularly its focus on holistic person-centered care, and its emphasis on social and reproductive justice. 


This part of your formal nursing education is culminating at an extraordinary time. How has the pandemic shaped your feelings about becoming a nurse?

I feel proud to be a member of the health care workforce during these uncertain times and to have the skills to contribute to the efforts in one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak. I am thankful for my science and public health background, which help me to interpret data and news headlines responsibly and communicate meaningfully and clearly with people across professions. The World Health Organization has designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. This could not be more fitting with the incredible work these professions are doing on the front lines to care for their patients, and I am honored to be a member of both.


How has your Columbia Nursing education and experience prepared you—academically and clinically—to deal with the pandemic?

On the first day of the stay-at-home order in New York in late March, I began working with the New York State Department of Health to help with COVID-19 testing at the drive-through site in New Rochelle. I have since taken on a role as Lead Nurse in their citywide nursing home testing initiative. In the beginning, I had no idea what I would be walking into but went in with a sense of responsibility to my communities as well as my health care colleagues on the front line. I felt capable of facing this new experience with the skills, confidence, and ability to be flexible to evolving circumstances that l developed throughout my nursing and midwifery education at Columbia.


What are you passionate about, and how has being a student at Columbia Nursing allowed you to follow your passion?

I am passionate about increasing access to comprehensive reproductive health care and promoting safe, evidence-based, and respectful birth practices. I am committed to addressing health inequities, particularly as they relate to disparities in perinatal and overall health outcomes for underserved and marginalized communities. Being part of Columbia’s midwifery program has helped me channel my passion for change into advocacy work, quality improvement initiatives, and the thoughtful merging of evidence-based practice with personalized shared decision-making.  


What’s your next step after you graduate?

I am excited about starting my journey as a midwife and doing the work I have trained for and love. As I advance in my career, I intend to mentor others in midwifery, nursing, and public health, and to continue learning from my mentors, several of whom inspired my interest in maternal and reproductive health policy. I plan to participate in advocacy efforts that affect meaningful change for our patient populations, and eventually hope to be in an academic teaching role in midwifery. 


Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Columbia Nursing?

My favorite memories include the opportunities I had for experiential learning. I was among the first set of students to utilize Columbia Nursing’s new building and participate in hands-on clinical training in the simulation lab. I also loved the opportunities I had for off-campus experiential learning. One of my most memorable experiences was traveling to the New York State Capitol with my peers to meet with legislators and advocate for policies to improve maternal and reproductive health and advance the work of the midwifery profession.


Is there anything you’d like to add?

I hope the health care workforce continues to improve interprofessional collaboration. Our entire community must tackle big issues together, whether they are acute infectious disease pandemics or ongoing chronic disease epidemics. I never would have imagined graduating as a midwife and finding myself donning PPE to perform large-scale COVID-19 testing, but I feel fortunate to be able to use this time and my nursing and public health background to contribute to the effort. After we are through the worst of this crisis, I will still be a midwife, with even greater energy for providing care through a public health lens that values evidence-based research, equity, dignity, and humanity.