HOLYOKE — The American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM) awarded its 2016 Outstanding Preceptor Award to certified nurse midwife Rachel Graber of Midwifery Care of Holyoke (MCH), a member of Valley Health Systems and the Holyoke Medical Center (HMC) family.
“The award honors a preceptor of student certified nurse midwives/certified midwives who has shown outstanding qualities for leadership and teaching, been a mentor for multiple students, and has repeatedly promoted high standards of midwifery education,” according to the ACNM website.
Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems, noted that “Rachel is highly deserving of this prestigious award for her ability to share the wisdom she has gained in her own experiences and that shared with the Midwifery Care of Holyoke team. Valley Health Systems prides itself on its extraordinary staff, such as Rachel, who provide a culture of helping others succeed.”
Graber was nominated by Sukey Agard Krause, director of the Midwifery Education Program at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.
“Ms. Graber is an outstanding preceptor, for our students as well as students from other programs,” Krause said. “She gives consistent, kind feedback that nurtures growth. She coordinates and tracks the experiences of the students. She communicates consistently and reliably with our program so that students’ needs are met in a timely fashion. She has shown outstanding preceptor work with students in need of remediation, providing constructive learning plans to move students forward. She is never arbitrary or punitive.”
Graber, who has worked as a midwife since 2008 and been precepting for the last six years, said she was surprised and honored to learn of the award.
“Precepting is just part of what we do here — it is one of the hallmarks of midwifery. We’re very dedicated to training upcoming midwives. We also work with the medical students, although we’re not a teaching hospital,” said Graber, noting that MCH has a longstanding relationship with Baystate’s midwifery-education program.
Typically a student in the ‘integration’ year spends all of their time for 12 weeks with a preceptor in a practice, to gain hands-on experience and confidence in their skills. The eight midwives at MCH share the teaching responsibility and aim to give a well-rounded experience to upcoming nurse midwives, said Graber, who completed her own integration-year clinicals at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Dartmouth, N.H., as well as clinicals in New York City and Connecticut. She earned her master’s degree in nursing from Yale University in New Haven, Conn. and graduated from its nurse-midwifery program. Before that, she earned a bachelor’s degree from UMass Amherst.
Graber started working at Midwifery Care of Holyoke as her first job after graduation. She sees patients in MCH’s two Holyoke offices as well as its Northampton office at 150 Main St., and she delivers babies at the Birthing Center at HMC.
“I really love the practice,” she said. “We just celebrated our 30th anniversary of MCH. It’s a practice that is really ingrained in the community. I love the population here — the diversity of women and families that we see. No one has the same story or the same situation. It’s constantly interesting and challenging, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. It kind of fills all my needs.”