Ob/Gyn Dispatches During COVID-19: Heather Osborne, MA, CNM, Ob/Gyn NP, RN

Each day during the COVID-19 crisis, we'll share an update from a member of our team in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Today's note is from Heather Osborne, MA, CNM, Ob/Gyn NP, RN, Clinical Nurse Director in the Department of Ob/Gyn at NYP/CUIMC.

I have had the blessing of working in the healthcare industry for the past 34 years and have observed some of the incredible strides that have been made. When I was a fairly new labor and delivery nurse, with little knowledge of the role research played in clinical outcomes, I never knew how “new” treatments came into existence. One of my first meetings with the department heads here at Columbia was with Michelle DiVito, where she shared that the clinical trials and use of terbutaline for preterm contractions were performed at Columbia. It gives me an incredible sense of pride to know that I am now an integral part of an institution that provides exceptional, comprehensive women’s healthcare with many nationally-recognized innovators constantly seeking future healthcare improvements.

From as early as a preteen, even prior to knowing what career path I desired, I was always drawn to healthcare. My first nursing job was in 1986, when HIV/AIDS was a fairly new disease process that evoked fear and anxiety among the healthcare industry primarily due to many of the “unknowns” at that time. My first “hospital family” nurtured and supported me as a new RN facing this and other fears.

During my career I have had the privilege of working as a nurse, a midwife, and in nursing management. These experiences have afforded me the wonderful and unique opportunity to see the various challenges and perspectives that all team members face. It enables me to appreciate the fact that the impact of what we all do lies far beyond any title we hold. We are all essential players here!

This devastating COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to reevaluate many aspects of our personal and professional lives. The support of our department leaders in recognizing the critical need for transparency, regularly sharing information and providing resources for emotional support, has been outstanding. I would also like to pay homage to the entire healthcare team and their incredible impact to patients on a daily basis. While there has been a tremendous outpouring of support, acknowledging the sacrifices of healthcare workers recently in the media, our roles have not changed. It has just been brought into the spotlight.  

 As many of you know, this is Nurses Week, so I want to recognize all of my fellow nurses and thank them for their unwavering commitment and continuing to be a vital link between patients, families, and providers. I cannot imagine anything that could test your strength, integrity, and resolve as this pandemic has. You continue to rise to the occasion even in the face of fear and anxiety, and impact the lives of every patient that you care for. None of us will be unscathed, even when this is a distant memory, and in some ways this can be a positive experience. We gain our greatest strengths through our greatest challenges. It is my prayer that we all stay safe and healthy so that we may continue to share our extraordinary gifts with friends, family, colleagues, and our patients. Know that your invaluable and unrelenting service is recognized not just this week, but every day.

Music and prayer has always been a source of comfort for me, especially during the most stressful times in my life. I would like to end this reflection with a song from two of my favorite artists- Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion- the song is called My Prayer.

I pray you’ll be our eyes and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise in times when we don’t know
Let this be our prayer when we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace to a place where we’ll be safe.
No matter which God you worship, this is my prayer for all of us.

Heather Osborne, MA, CNM, Ob/Gyn NP, RN