Samantha started her career as a nurse and has since adapted her skills to become a doula, breastfeeding counselor, childbirth educator, and book consultant, all at the same time! By staying open to opportunities and thinking creatively about how she can do work she loves, Sam has been able to create multiple opportunities and income streams for herself. Here’s her story.
When you started your career, what were you doing?
I started my career as a Registered Nurse in California. I worked 14 months on a Med/Surg unit at Saddleback Memorial Hospital in Laguna Hills, CA. The following three years I worked on the labor and delivery unit at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, CA. We delivered an average of 500 babies per month. I had the job of my dreams at a wonderful hospital when my husband took a job with the U.S. Foreign Service.
What do you do now?
Since my husband joined the Foreign Service I have had to reinvent myself career wise. I was able to work as a RN at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, which was perfect, but that was not an option here in Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, I had to start looking around for other opportunities that would work for me. Now I have a few different jobs that I am doing. I am a doula for the expat community, a certified breastfeeding counselor, a childbirth educator, a mother/baby support group coordinator, a substitute nurse at the international school, and a consultant for Usborne Books and More.
How did you get from Point A (your first career) to Point B (your current work)?
I really had no idea what I was going to do or what I wanted to do once I arrived here. I just knew that I love nursing and caring for others, especially maternal/child nursing. I met a midwife here who was leaving Vietnam. She worked at Family Medical Practice, which is a clinic that mainly serves expats. The midwife hired me to teach childbirth classes, run a mother/baby support group and assist with breastfeeding mothers. I had the experience to assist with the basics of breastfeeding, but nothing further than that. I found out there was very little support for breastfeeding as they prefer formula here. This encouraged me to become a certified breastfeeding counselor.
I decided to become a doula after an expat mom in my support group asked me to support her when she was giving birth here in Vietnam. She was scared to give birth in a foreign country. I met with a doula from Canada who lives here in Ho Chi Minh City and she encouraged me to become her partner because there are so many women delivering their babies here and looking for support. That first delivery spiraled in to several more. I then took the DONA International doula training course last summer when we were back in the U.S. for vacation. I am now on my way to becoming a certified doula with DONA.
During the summer I also fell in love with Usborne Books and More after a friend from college introduced me to them. Since I am not sure what work will be available at my next post I decided that becoming an independent consultant with Usborne would be the perfect portable career to make a little extra money. Plus this job allows me to fill my children’s library with amazing books. They love when an Usborne box comes in the mail. It’s a career that benefits me and my children, and I couldn’t ask for anything better than that.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job as a doula is being able to support a woman and man through the journey of becoming new parents or becoming parents for a second or third time.
The best part about being a breastfeeding counselor is helping women through what can be an unexpected stressful time in their life.
The best part about being a childbirth educator is teaching something that I am passionate about to first-time parents.
The best part about being a school nurse is getting to use some of my nursing skills and getting to spy on my kids when they are in class.
Last but not least, the best part about being an Usborne Books and More Consultant is that I get to help make a difference in children’s lives by sharing these amazing books. I’m not going to lie, the free books have been a huge benefit as well. My obsession with books has gotten my girls to take their love of reading to another level. I love to watch them get excited about reading.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome when transitioning to a new career?
The biggest challenge that I had to overcome was letting go of the past. I loved my job as a labor and delivery nurse so much. It was extremely hard to let that go completely. I felt a lot of resentment for having to give up doing what I loved. Once I was able to let go it opened my eyes to so many new opportunities.
How did you overcome this challenge?
It took a lot of personal growth and change in the way I thought about my own career. I realized that in order for me to be truly happy and self-fulfilled I needed to become flexible and open to new ideas and opportunities. I am happy to have the opportunity to stay home with my children, but I also know that I enjoy working. The careers I have chosen have given me both. I get to be home with my kids quite a bit and work as the work comes in.
What is the best resource you’ve found in the past year to help you pursue your career goals?
The best resource has been the large expat community in Vietnam. There are so many women here seeking support before, during and after the birth of their baby. These women have helped me to learn and grow with hands-on experience.