Meet Pam Boeck. Her life experiences include being a teacher, a food service professional, a nurse, and a lay midwife. Perhaps her most fulfilling roles have been being a mother and now a grandmother. She talks about her journey, her experience caring for and teaching others, and the importance of proper care and support for new mothers and their children.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and the work you do today
Norman, OK has been my home since 1978. I have three children, and I live with my husband and our wonder dog, Arlo. I love to spend time with my family, cook, read, walk, do yoga, and travel all that I can. I have been a bartender, caterer, pre-school and substitute elementary teacher, and held other various jobs prior to attending nursing school a few years after the birth of our third child. I am currently a Clinical Nurse educator who teaches wellness and preventative health in the global community.
I come from a lineage of women who have created communal homes. We have invited into our home foster children, international students, Airbnb guests, family members, and numerous others who needed a place to rest their heads.
I love being a mom, mom-in-law, and now a grandma. Now that my kids are grown, it is a new adventure learning how to “parent” adults. Just as when they were young, they probably teach me more than I teach them.
How has your past experience being a midwife shaped your view of motherhood?
My role in the healing arena began as a lay midwife, labor coach, and prepared childbirth instructor after the birth of my first child. I was intrigued by the natural birthing process. In the early 1980’s in the US, mother’s birth plan requests were not often valued, infant and mother morbidity and mortality rates were much higher than many other countries, breast-feeding was discouraged in most circles, and giving birth was very expensive.
There were a shortage of midwives in my area when I gave birth to my first child; however, my doctor was a strong proponent of allowing women to birth in the most healthy and natural way possible. I gave birth to my first little miracle on Christmas Eve, 1979 and went home 3 hours later. My second and third children were born at home with the support of midwives and family and friends at my side. Getting to become a mom and witness other women’s births gave a new meaning to what a Higher Power truly is in my life. I learned the importance of new mothers having a strong support system and community. I have continued to be part of many other women and children’s lives. There has been no greater joy.
What are your thoughts on the proper care and support for a woman from pregnancy through childbirth and beyond?
Evidence-based research demonstrates the value for basic prenatal care, including clean water, proper nutrition, education, and screening to decrease morbidity and mortality rates. As a human being, I believe it is a calling and an obligation to care for women and children.
What are some key lessons you’ve learned in your work in community medicine abroad?
I have learned that basic healthcare can be offered for very little money when we are not so concerned about insurance and pharmaceutical companies making huge profits. When value is placed on communities, and when we continue to rely on one another, there is a bond that is created that can surpass modern technology.
How do you empower your students to be become better caregivers at home and abroad?
I love guiding students to assist in teaching their patients to provide optimal health for themselves and their communities. I travel with students to under-served areas in the U.S. and other countries to explore what we all can learn from one another as a member of the community. On our trips, we provide healthcare alongside of community health workers. This most often is geared toward women and children.
Nurses are sometimes known as wounded healers. I try to model the behavior of the best caregiver that I can be. This begins with self-care. I teach my students that one cannot offer a drink of water if their cup is empty. One needs to experience healing in order to be an optimal healer. My students get the opportunity to be servant leaders in the community. I teach them to be ready to meet people where they are, realizing that healthcare is a team effort that includes listening from the heart.
What are some lessons you’ve learned in your own experience as a mother?
I have learned that being a mother is an honor that surpasses no other calling. Just when I think that I may have it figured out, there is a new lesson or journey right around the corner. My mothers and grandmothers taught me unconditional love; a healing salve to all errs. We are here to shepherd our children, yet we must know that they have their own personal paths. We must allow them their wings and their roots, then we must move out of the way. We may not always get it right, but there is always tomorrow.