Celebrating Nurses Week with Abby Rienstra, WHNP

Hi Knours Lovers! Today we want to give our thanks to healthcare workers in celebration of National Nurses Week. It’s a time to honor and show our appreciation for the meaningful contributions all nurses make to society. The week typically ends on Florence Nightingale’s birthday as she is considered the founder of modern nursing.

This Nurses Week we have invited Abby Rienstra, WHNP (Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner), to speak to us about her job, how she uplifts her female patients, and what womanhood and female empowerment mean to her.

Abby lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she is a dog mom and a soon-to-be mom to a baby girl due in August. She loves being outdoors, especially in the summer, and particularly enjoys anything water or lake-related. She and her husband are avid travelers and prefer frequent long weekend trips over the occasional long vacation. As a WHNP, she provides a variety of care from preventative and annual exams to problem focused visits, obstetrical care, contraception consultations, and minor office procedures. Keep reading to learn more about Abby’s experience as a WHNP!

1.  What led you to nursing and then to specialize in women’s health?

When I was a teenager, I myself was hospitalized for a few weeks. This is when I really decided on nursing as a career. The nurses who cared for me made my time there so much more enjoyable than it should have been. When I was in nursing school, my OB rotation was my favorite. I loved caring for women and empowering them through childbirth. 

2.  How has the pandemic changed your work? 

The pandemic has impacted my work greatly. Aside from mask wearing and isolation policies for women who are known COVID positive or under investigation for COVID, We provide much more virtual/telehealth care, and try to keep women/children from needing to come into the office if possible. 

3.  Has your skin health ever been affected by your job? (Stress, exhaustion, etc.)

Greatly! Maskne is real! My skin also responds negatively to long/stressful days, as well as days you don’t drink enough water or eat those donuts in the breakroom!

4.  What are some unique challenges your female patients face and what are some challenges you face in your field?

A lot of women still struggle with access to care, it’s hard to see. Providing OB care for women does come with a lot of appointments, especially if they have risk factors. Some women end up needing appointments twice weekly for the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy. When you have a small support system and no personal form of transportation, you rely on others to take you to these appointments multiple times per week. It’s important to remember it isn’t always easy for patients to get around and to try to accommodate them as much as possible. 

5.  How do you help your patients when they are going through a difficult time?

Listen and empathize. Let them finish their thoughts before interjecting. Understand that everyone’s life is not just like your own. Be non judgemental. Empower them with the tools and resources to help them out of their difficult situation. 

6.  What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

I love working with teenagers and educating them on their reproductive options and rights. I love working with them and their mothers, helping them choose contraceptive options that are best for them. 

7.  What advice do you have for young women interested in nursing?

Do it - it isn’t always glamorous or easy, but it really is a rewarding career with many options. If one specialty or location isn’t what you want long term, there are plenty of other specialties or settings you can work in!

8.  What does female empowerment look like to you? What does womanhood mean to you?

Female empowerment to me is encouraging women to be the best version of themselves, and helping them achieve this. Women need to build each other up, instead of tearing each other down. It’s an important part of gender equality. Womanhood and femininity are necessary traits for women- be proud of being a woman and don’t let it hold you back!

We also wanted to say a heartfelt thank you to all the healthcare workers who have been working so tirelessly throughout the pandemic. We would not be able to resume any form of normal activities (including our team going back into the office) without your efforts to support those who are sick and aid in the prevention of even more people falling ill. Cheers to you!