Working Within and For a Community

Posted by Katie Moriarty on April 23, 2018
Katie Moriarty argues health is a function of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.
Spoiler Alert: This post discusses events in Call the Midwife Season 7 Episode 6.

Who can forget the return to work and school after the summer?
The immaculate shoes, the pristine pencil case.
The promise that this year’s homework would be done on time and with absolutely perfect writing.
The prospect of a fresh start is always an exciting one—a clean sheet, an open book, a chance to start again.

Episode six had several story lines

  • A Northern Irish Family, the Davidson’s, and their move to England for a new start and the tragedies, joys, and new friendships that follow
  • Valerie and Lucille teaching health/sex education to the young female teens of Poplar and what this situation uncovers within one family
  • Sister Monica Joan has her cataract operation and her roommate has her reflecting on life choices
  • Barbara and her expanded role as pastor’s wife –but it is not her hard work that is causing her exhaustion but a serious septicemia

What I felt linked all of these stories—was a sense of community and facing and processing life’s challenges with a helping supportive hand. Just like the Nonnatus house nuns and midwives in Call the Midwife – I find as a modern day midwife – in order to enhance my client’s health things cannot be viewed in isolation! To enhance health we need to look at the individual, family, and their community—and that going it alone never seems to be the best route. Just like Call the Midwife this modern day midwife has to encompass the full spectrum of my midwifery skills and elements that are often seen within being a Public Health Nurse. We can help lead the way by trying to focus on health and health care by focusing on the social determinants of health and we meet these needs through where people live, work, play, learn, and even worship.

At Frontier Nursing University I teach within a course called Evidence Based Practice and this past week we talked about shared decision making. It was fun to hear the varied experiences (or lack of those experiences) where an approach is used to discuss that individual or community’s issue, the complexities of that situation, options and choices (balanced information of the clinical situation and the current evidence), including preferences of cultural views and beliefs along with the client’s specific goals. Just like our episode with these varied storylines we talked how the individual situation is enhanced when we come together with love, compassion, teamwork, and a respectfully holding of a safe space for that person, family or community as they process and then together how you move forward. As healthcare providers we need to use our skill set of critically thinking with decision making informed by science, evidence, within the envelope of that community. Midwifery truly embraces this public health perspective.

In 2017 the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Foundation published a document that highlighted many of the ways a public health nurse can improve or optimize health—and I see these elements when I am watching this show! The document highlighted that to optimize health we need to really view both the social and the physical environments. Our episode had several storylines that showed you needed to jump in to unravel where someone was (past and present) to see how to move forward. In the RWJ document it discusses ways that public health nurses help through prevention, education, coordination, protection, leading, promoting, advocating, care, integration, and research. I have included the resource below if you want to read more of the document; however, it was the one element of integration that I wanted to end with. As this is what I felt the midwives and nuns did as they recognized that health is a function of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. They assisted the individuals and the community in integrating a variety of needed services through collaborating, mobilizing and leading varied groups or teams. They worked within and for the community.

Some pages take longer to turn than others
It doesn’t matter if the spotless sheet follows the blotted one or if the proceeding lines are blurred with tears.
What went before is erased or embraced as we begin another chapter.


10 ways Public Health Nurses (PHN) improve health (2017). Robert Wood Johson Foundation.

Image - KatieMoriarty.jpgKatie Moriarty, PhD, CNM, CAFCI, FACNM, RN is a professor on faculty at Frontier Nursing University and a Certified Nurse-Midwife with WSUPG CNM Service at Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the American College of Nurse-Midwives as the Region IV Representative. Previously she was the Associate Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at the University of Michigan.
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