Registered nurses Aracely Nelson (left) and Mercy Valencia are women’s health nurse practitioners/certified midwives at Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District in Brawley. Both returned to work at PMHD after receiving their master’s degrees. William Roller photo
BRAWLEY — When employees take time off work for professional development it is a moral boost to know their employer is supportive as two labor and delivery nurses for Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District discovered.
Registered nurses Aracely Nelson and Mercy Valenzuela both
attended San Diego State University, San Diego, to earn a master’s degree with
dual certification as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner/Certified Midwife.
The effort included completing 1,000 clinical hours.
The pair not only improved skills but returned to benefit
the community. Both are now qualified to work in general gynecological care to
obstetrics through post-partum monitoring.
“We knew we wanted to finish grad school but were uncertain
where we’d practice,” said Nelson.
“Pioneers approached us just before graduation as to
what are plans were and our focus was to have both of us delivering
babies,” added Valenzuela. “That was key because as midwives we can
do everything a physician can do (in the delivery unit) except C-section
That offer came
more than four years ago in September 2015 and since that time Pioneers has had
a successful midwives program with Valenzuela and Nelson leading the way.
school was a means to advance to a higher level in the medical profession, both
said their nursing experience was especially useful. It was steeped in patient
advocacy in all aspects of medical care–being there for the patient throughout
“So we see a patient from the time they have a
pregnancy verification through 40 weeks (9 months) and then see them two weeks
later for postpartum depression screening and see them again four weeks
later,” said Valenzuela.
care does not intimidate either nurse and, in fact, is motivational as
something for which both have a passion.
“The fact we get to take care of
women gives us satisfaction and the Pioneer’s Women’s Health Center is an all-women
staff,” said Nelson. “We can see women for any concern, not just
pregnancy. It does not have to be in regard to a particular problem but just
questions about women’s health.”
Cancer Detection and Prevention
Nelson and Valenzuela noted January was
Cervical Health Awareness Month and that the Women’s Health Center offers a
test to detect cervical cancer.
“It’s early detection and prevention
and it’s recommended all women get tested starting at age 21 and thereafter
once a year,” said Valenzuela.
Also recommended is the Gardasil 9 vaccine
to protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical
When caught in the early stages there’s an
80 percent chance of beating the cancer, the Women’s Health Center reports. But
if people are uninsured they are automatically covered by California’s Office
of Family Planning Family Pact, explained Nelson.
there’s no excuse for not having it,” she said. “It’s like any cancer:
the longer you wait for a screening, the worse the prognosis becomes.”