Working Together for Prenatal Health

The Vanderbilt Schools of Nursing and Medicine have come together to improve prenatal care in a clinical partnership called the Shade Tree Early Pregnancy Program (STEPP).

Second-year medical students Marissa Blanco, Kelly Bingham and Erin Toaz saw a need for targeted prenatal care, so they applied for grants to support the once-a-month clinic held at Shade Tree, the free full-service clinic run by VUSM students. The students have received a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Nashville, and another $12,000 from a private family foundation.

“Dr. (Charles) Rush stepped in and said he would help with a monthly clinic and would bring third-year students who are in their ob/gyn rotation,” said Bingham. “Then, the VUSN Nurse-Midwifery clinical faculty agreed to come and bring nurse-midwifery students, so now we have a team. The interesting part is how much the medical students are learning from the nurse-midwifery students, and vice versa.”

The goal is to get women like Dayana Moran, a 27-year-old expectant mother pictured above with first-year medical student Sarah Proffitt, into STEPP as early in their pregnancy as possible. Students start the women on prenatal vitamins and provide all the needed lab work. The women receive a comprehensive prenatal visit from either an ob/gyn or a nurse-midwife faculty member.

“STEPP is a bridge to get people in need into care,” said Tonia Moore-Davis, M.S.N., R.N., C.N.M., head of the VUSN nurse-midwifery practice.

“These women and their unborn babies needed to see a practitioner right away, and get to a place that can offer continuous care covering prenatal, birth and postpartum.”

Low-risk patients will automatically be admitted into the nurse-midwifery faculty practice and be seen at regularly scheduled intervals throughout their entire pregnancy.