Global experiences lead Romero to midwifery

By Laura Gasque

Gaby Romero was volunteering with the Peace Corps in Rwanda when an experience partnering with a community midwife changed her path.

“We were working together to promote maternal and child health, especially for children under the age of 2,” Romero said. “I realized that not only do nurse-midwives take care of patients during birth, but they work on preventive health and reproductive health and reduce gender-based violence. I got to see how nurses and midwives really impact lives.”

Romero had always known that she wanted to help people in communities without access to quality care. Her family is originally from Venezuela and moved to the States when she was a child because she was born premature and needed specialized medical attention. In college, Romero earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in public health. But it was her experience in East Africa that helped her realize her next steps.

“When I came back to the U.S., I learned that these kind of health inequities don’t just happen abroad, they’re not just limited to villages like in rural Rwanda, but in places like parts of Alabama,” Romero said.

Romero enrolled in the Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing. The pathway allows people with bachelor’s degrees or higher in a non-nursing field to change their career path to nursing.

“UAB was the perfect option for me because it’s close to rural communities and they have a lot of local and global partnerships as well,” Romero said.

While completing the AMNP curriculum, Romero trained to become a sexual assault nurse examiner at a local crisis center. After graduation, she moved to Arizona where she was a public health nurse on a Native American reservation, where much of her work focused on maternal health.

That experience led her back to UAB. Romero is now enrolled in the inaugural cohort of the School’s relaunched MSN Nurse-Midwifery Pathway.

“I really like that the whole idea of midwifery is that it’s with women and with families, so that’s what led me back to UAB,” Romero said. “I was so excited when they started the program back.”

As she continues her studies and training, she does so with a heart for helping others.

“Being from Venezuela, I learned very early how communities of color often face challenges getting to medical care, and that’s especially true in rural communities that have less access to care as it is. So I really want to focus on communities of color, especially in women and children and focus on trying to prevent those health disparities,” Romero said. “I’m really passionate about improving maternal health in Alabama.”

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