ALTHOUGH Ruth-Ann Millen was only nine years old when her mother suffered a miscarriage, the pain and heartache that her mother endured during the ordeal was not lost on her young mind.
That experience served as the impetus for her career decision to enter the medical field.
“As I grew older and started to understand the medical cause of my mother's miscarriage, I quickly realised that it was something which could have been prevented. Plus, as an only child, I always believed that her miscarriage robbed me of having a brother or sister. Therefore I wanted to become an obstetrician so that I could help women to have healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries,” she explained.
Throughout her studies at St Hilda's High School in St Ann, Millen nurtured her dream to become a doctor.
“My plan was to go to nursing school at Brown's Town Community College and then move on to medical school,” she related.
However, life had other plans. After completing nursing school, Millen went on to work in the field of midwifery at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), a profession she has grown to love and through which she has touched the lives of numerous mothers-to-be during the past seven years.
“I no longer desire to become a doctor. I am happy being a nurse and believe that what I do is worthwhile,” said Millen, who was the winner of the UHWI Nurse of Excellence Award for 2018.
The Nurse of Excellence Award is presented by the UHWI to a registered nurse who consistently practices excellence; and who uses exemplary skills as well as knowledge to care for patients in the hospital and in the community. The award was sponsored by JN Bank.
Through her work, Millen has assisted many expectant mothers to care for themselves and their babies.
“I love teaching women about their bodies, what to expect during pregnancy, and after giving birth. I also realise that when people receive health education they are more compliant with your instructions and you receive more co-operation from the patient. Consequently, they achieve safer deliveries and better results at the end of the day,” she said.
As part of her community outreach project as the Nurse of Excellence, Millen has also been working with teenage mothers at the Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation in St Andrew.
Through that programme, which is being implemented in partnership with the Social Welfare Committee at the UHWI, she has conducted interactive classes with young women about antenatal and postnatal care as well as family planning and contraceptive methods to help delay a second pregnancy.
“We will also be inviting a doctor to come on board and assist us with providing medical check-ups for the ladies as well as administer contraceptive methods,” she said.
Millen said that her goal is to provide a holistic programme of development for these young women.
“My aim is to develop the whole person, so while I want to prepare them for delivery and teach them how to care for their bodies and their babies, I also want to use the opportunity to empower them by building their confidence,” she explained.
“I have a deep love for people, especially our young women, and I want to help them to reach their full potential. I believe that caring for people is important for self and national development, especially our girls. In fact, research reveals that the development of young girls will result in greater social and economic development in our society,” she maintained.
The 30-year-old registered nurse said she wants to help the young women enrolled at the Women's Centre to develop a total sense of self.
“Many of our girls are searching for love and affirmation. However, problems emerge when they seek love and affirmation in the wrong place or from the wrong person. That's why I want to do my part in advising them that they are loved and should affirm their dreams and goals. I want them to know that they can rise above any situation and be able to achieve much more than they can imagine,” she said.
Millen, who was selected as the Nurse of Excellence last July, said that at the end of her reign she wants to leave a lasting impression on not only her patients and fellow nurses, but also on every Jamaican with whom she interacts.
“My goal is to touch lives in a positive way. I also hope that at the end of the project I would have increased awareness about the needs and concerns of our young mothers. I want to bring more positive attention to the work of the Women's Centre of Jamaica and particularly to the issues which affect teenage mothers in our country,” she said.