Even as a young girl, Jen Boberick knew precisely what she loved. There were the dolls she played with—only baby dolls, never Barbies. There was the younger sister Jen’s mother could barely pry from her arms. There were the neighborhood babies she loved to watch, the children she babysat and nannied as a teen and college student, and the desire to be there for those getting ready for the birth of a child or adjusting to life with a newborn.
Pursuing a career in nursing
A health issue derailed Jen’s dreams for a while; she studied English during her first year of college. But as Jen’s health improved, her desire to pursue a career in nursing intensified—a dream she achieved through an accelerated program that granted her two bachelor degrees—one in English and one in nursing—in just five-and-a-half years.
Jen’s first full-time job as a nurse took her to a rural community in Chestertown, MD, where she attended between 20 to 30 births each month. There were just four labor rooms and a handful of nurses in this health center. Care began with education, extended through labor and delivery, and carried forward into post-partum treatment. Jen savored every minute of that job—the connections she made, the babies she held, the countless things she learned about care of both the technical and highly personal kind. During the moments of joy, she celebrated. During times of bereavement and loss, she helped create memory boxes containing the foot- and hand-prints of the child who had passed on. Jen learned how to be there when there were no words to say, and she learned that simply being there was bigger than anything that might be said.
An accelerated path to nursing leadership and excellence
When the hospital was sold, Jen found a job in a new health system that once again brought her into direct contact with the families that needed her most. At the same time, she pursued a new degree—a Master of Science in Nursing Leadership with a concentration in Nursing Education—a program designed to take two to five years, but which Jen completed, with a 3.9 GPA, in just 13 months. Jen was soon teaching during the hours when she wasn’t working 12-hour shifts. She worked to achieve three national nursing certifications, and then she began to look ahead.
Jen heard about Accolade through a Facebook friend group. She applied, waited, then found herself engaged in a three-hour interview on New Year’s Eve day in 2015. Jen hadn’t even made the hour-long trip home before she got the news that she’d been selected for the job that she has today.
More than an educator
As a Clinical Health Assistant on the Women’s Health Team, Jen supports an average 150 families experiencing everything from infertility to high-risk births. She sees herself as a guide and an educator, but it’s clear from the notes she receives that she is something more—part therapist, part resource, part advocate.
Sometimes Jen’s clients will need support during infertility treatments—answers to questions, encouragement throughout procedures, ideas about what questions to ask and which physicians to ask them of, help sorting through the mass of bills. Sometimes a client needs someone to talk to through the early adjustments of breastfeeding and lost sleep. Sometimes Jen finds herself helping clients discover and research physicians and specialists, and sometimes she’s there to speak up for those who may not be getting the care they need.
Listening between the lines
Jen talks to some 15 to 20 clients each day, and between the lines she listens for percolating anxieties. “What has always surprised me about this job is just how intimate it is,” she says. “How clients grow to trust this voice on the phone, to ask me whatever it is that is on their minds, things they might not feel safe saying in a face-to-face environment.”
Recently, Jen says, a mother in her 32nd week of pregnancy learned that she had high-blood pressure, and that this might affect the delivery of her child. “When she called, she confessed that once the doctor had delivered the blood-pressure news, she hardly heard or processed anything else,” Jen recalls. “I was able to walk this client through what might happen next, what medications might be prescribed, how those medications might make her feel or affect the baby. I was able to help her, too, form the questions she should ask during her next doctor visit.”
Connecting with high-risk pregnancy clients
Jen makes it a practice to speak with high-risk pregnancy clients at least monthly and with clients with “normal” pregnancies on a periodic basis. But mostly she tries to keep her line open for anyone who might call for any reason at all—a troublesome blood clot, fear about a second birth following a challenging first-birth experience, a doctor who doesn’t seem to be listening. Jen also will talk with the medical team itself. Sometimes she helps sort out billing issues or refers clients to another Accolade specialist for assistance.
A trusted relationship
Perhaps the hardest part of her job, she says, is when the birth and post-partum care comes to an end. “Suddenly my client and I realize that we might not have a reason to talk again, and that’s always so emotional, for both of us,” Jen says. She treasures the baby pictures her clients send to her, the updates on a child, news of a birthday.
As she speaks for her love of the work she does, Jen glances at the photograph on her desk of herself as a child no more than three cradling a baby doll. Some people are just born to do the work they do. Jen Boberick is one of them.
You might also be interested in our webinar with Ovia Health: How Postpartum Depression is Costing Employers.