The first baby Vernicia Winford helped deliver into the world as a certified nurse-midwife was her own niece, born just a few days after the nursing graduate student passed her American Midwifery Certification Board exam last December.
As a dual nurse-midwifery/family nurse practitioner student in the School of Nursing, Winford saw patients of all ages and genders in her clinical work at the Family Clinic in McMinnville, about 75 miles southeast of Nashville, while completing her F.N.P. studies.
A native of Chicago who spent her formative years in Gallatin, Tennessee, Winford knew from an early age that she wanted to work in health care.
“My great-grandmother had a stroke when I was in elementary school, and my grandmother moved to Mississippi to care for her. We spent summer vacations with them, and I helped care for her, too,” Winford says.
When it came time to choose a career, Winford knew she wanted to care for women and initially thought of becoming an obstetrician–gynecologist. But shadowing an OB–GYN changed her mind. “My philosophy of care for women and my scope of practice instead lined up with nurse-midwifery and nursing,” she says.
Winford earned an undergraduate degree in nursing and worked as a labor and delivery nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center while applying to graduate midwifery programs.
“Vanderbilt had always been one of my dream schools,” Winford says. “VUSN prides itself on diversity and making sure students have invaluable experiences.”
“Vanderbilt had always been one of my dream schools. VUSN prides itself on diversity and making sure students have invaluable experiences.”
Some of those experiences for Winford have included providing care in family clinics, rural and metropolitan women’s centers, and community-based Federally Qualified Health Centers in South Carolina with a high need for providers. She also participated in the School of Nursing’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program and plans to become a dual-certified SANE for adult and pediatric patients.
Winford now intends to work full time as a nurse-midwife. “I love all aspects of midwifery, but one of my favorites is prenatal care. During this time, you or your colleagues are building rapport with a mother,” she says. “You want that mother to feel comfortable enough to trust that you have her best interest at heart.”
Having that level of comfort with a care provider is what prompted Winfield’s sister-in-law to ask her to assist with the birth of baby Ivy Rose. “I was thankful to be there,” Winford says. “It was great to be able to help and advocate for her.”