Exit stage right: New role suits labor and delivery nurse

Kristen Young studied theater in college, but after marrying and having three kids, she traded the limelight for scrubs and the chance to help new moms.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

Kristen Young used to think she wanted to have a career on the stage. She loved performing and public speaking, so she decided a degree in theater would be the perfect fit for her.

Young earned that degree, but her career took a sharp turn after college. She married her college love, Mitch, and within a few years, the couple had three children.

Those kids, now ages 10, 9 and 6, are her world. But five years ago, this pastor’s wife – Mitch leads a church on the Northeastside – wondered what her next act would be.

Her youngest was 1 when Young began thinking about going back to school to follow another passion – nursing. As the daughter of a nurse, she initially resisted the idea of following in her mom’s footsteps, but then embraced the challenge.

“I went back to school with the support of my husband, with three little ones at home and a mother-in-law who made dinner once a week so I could study, and I did it.”

After a year as a student nurse at IU Health University Hospital, she started as a labor and delivery nurse at IU Health Methodist Hospital two years ago.

Already, she has collected two Daisy nominations for outstanding nursing and won a Daisy the first year she was on the job.

She knew then that she had found her calling.

“It was the best decision I’ve made and the hardest thing I’ve done ever,” she said. “But I love it. Every day I thank God that I get to come in and do my job.”

When she entered nursing school, she didn’t know for sure that she wanted to do labor and delivery, though she says she loved the nurses she had when she delivered her children.

“I was interested in the area, but I was also interested in NICU. Then I did a little bit of time in the operating room in nursing school and I really enjoyed that. I was also interested in working for Riley.”

All of her passions came together in a way she couldn’t have imagined.

When she interviewed at Methodist, she learned how as a labor and delivery nurse, she might get to be in the OR sometimes, she might do some triage and care for women who’ve had C-sections. When they told her the entire unit would soon be moving to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health when the Mother-Baby Unit opens, she knew this was the job for her.

“It’s everything that I kind of wanted that I didn’t realize could all be in one job.”

While she looks forward to the move to Riley, there is some anxiety about how patients will respond to the transition.

“We just want the best for our patients,” Young said. “But being under the Riley umbrella, there’s a lot of benefit. We deal with the sickest moms and the sickest babies in the state, and having the high-risk OB LifeLine allows us to take care of really sick patients, which means we have NICU babies frequently. The fact that we’ll be able to put mom and baby together (at Riley) is a blessing.”

Other than doing some spoken-word performances for Easter and Christmas pageants at her church, Young doesn’t get to indulge in her love of theater anymore, but her new role as a nurse suits her perfectly.