A Thursday in September 2018 started out like any other for Carle Illinois College of Medicine student Andrea Hall and Mattoon’s Karna Nave. But the two would soon meet at Carle Foundation Hospital and change both their lives forever.
Nave arrived at Carle’s Labor and Delivery expecting her first child. After a few hours, her labor stalled, allowing her family to arrive and her care team to manage her back labor pains.
“The whole team was accommodating and supportive,” she said. “Everyone was so nice to me, sweet to me, ensured our family had what we needed.”
Her trusted Family Medicine physician, Kristine Carpenter, MD, asked if a medical student could participate in the next steps and the Naves agreed.
“Having her observe was cool. It was both of our first times – her observing and my having a baby – so it was sort of a shared experience,” Nave said.
Hall, just four months into medical school, took an opportunity to learn about the labor and delivery process.
“Pregnancy is unpredictable. While we thought things would be progressing quickly, the mother’s contractions began to slow. My shift was ending but I opted to stay in hopes of witnessing and assisting with the birth,” Hall said.
Patients are the students’ best teachers in medical school. That’s why Dr. Carpenter is so excited about Carle Illinois’ model of early clinical exposure.
“Our students are really unique,” said Kristine Carpenter, MD, Family Medicine and Carle Illinois faculty members. “They not only have a quantitative background that helps them look at problems differently, but they really care about patient care, and they’re excited to be learning from patients.”
Dr. Carpenter said very few medical schools do as much clinical exposure as early as Carle Illinois.
“I can’t stress enough how important that is,” she said. “Our second-year students are clinically at the level of third-year students at other schools. They’re going to be great clinicians.”
Shortly after 5 p.m., Nave’s delivery picked up steam and the baby was ready to join the world.
“I did a little test push – and then, oh my gosh – there’s hair,” she said.
Three pushes later, Bow was born.
“He arrived three days past due, crying and hugging my finger,” Nave said.
Throughout the experience, Dr. Carpenter explained what was happening for both mom and student benefit.
“I had often heard childbirth is an amazing experience and it truly was an extraordinary event to witness,” Hall said.
Then Hall gained some hands-on experience.
“Dr. Carpenter expressed so much confidence in me as did the parents,” Hall said.
While they were focusing on their new baby, Hall was delivering the placenta.
“It takes some gentle tugging and a little bit of maneuvering. I was a little bit nervous, but with Dr. Carpenter by my side, I felt reassured,” she said.
Finally, Hall examined Bow.
“As I listened to his heart, I was struck by how fast it was beating,” she said.
Hall said she’s been interested in women’s health, but this experience exposed her to expanded opportunities such as obstetrics and gynecology.
“Working with Dr. Carpenter has instilled a great deal of confidence and my clinical experience has bolstered my studies,” she said. “I believe the best way to learn is by doing and I’m grateful the patient let me be part of their special moment.”