Midwife Who Paid off $80K Student Loans in 2 Years Empowers Nurses To Do The Same
Aishah Williams, CNM, wears many hats: midwife, women’s health nurse practitioner, social media influencer, financial coach, and entrepreneur, but at the heart of everything she juggles is a passion for helping others.
Whether that’s the pregnant people she serves in her work as a nurse-midwife, the nursing students, or nurses she coaches to help create a financial plan to pay for their student loans or those she encourages through her social platforms, @nursemidwifebae is making an impact.
In fact, this ambitious advanced practice nurse recently paid down $80K in student loans in just over two years and is working to help other nurses and future nurses do the same. To learn more about the work that she’s doing–along with more on the field of midwifery–Nurse Alice sat down with Aishah to chat on the Ask Alice Podcast.
Listen to Aishah's story on the Ask Nurse Alice Podcast! Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Why Aishah Became a Nurse
In a tale as old as time, Aishah told Nurse Alice how her journey into the nursing field initially started with her mother, who encouraged her to consider nursing as a career. Her mom pointed out the many benefits of becoming a nurse, including career and financial stability, but as many daughters do, Aishah rejected her mother’s advice.
“When you’re young, the last thing you want to do is listen to anything that your parents try to encourage you to do to say,” Aishah laughed. “I was like, nope, don’t want anything to do with it, not going into nursing, never, not going to happen!”
Instead, Aishah decided to concentrate on learning Spanish and spent most of her time as an undergraduate studying abroad, including living in Costa Rica for 1 year. Eventually, however, Aishah learned the lesson that sometimes, mama really does know best.
“I finally decided I was going to listen to my mom,” she confessed. She started with a volunteer position in labor and delivery, eventually landing in the NICU working with preemies. “Once I got to see some of the behind-the-scenes of what the nurses were doing and hold these babies, I actually got pretty hooked,” she explained. “And from then on, I got focused on a career path in women’s health nursing.”
The Midwife vs. The Myths
Aishah’s path into women’s health led her to attend Seattle University, where she became an RN and then, a Certified Nurse Midwife. Today, she works as an outpatient midwife, in addition to her work as a financial coach and an entrepreneur.
Because she works as a midwife, which is a nursing career path that some people may not be as familiar with, Nurse Alice and Aishah also dispelled some of the myths surrounding midwifery and what services midwives perform.
She explained that the scope of the care that nurse-midwives provide is very similar to a women’s health nurse practitioner, with one big exception: nurse-midwives can also deliver babies. “And contrary to popular belief, those deliveries aren’t happening in women’s homes,” she noted. Instead, most nurse-midwives actually perform deliveries in hospitals or in some situations, birth centers, which can be affiliated with a hospital as well.
Being a midwife isn’t about being the ancient elderly woman who grows her own herbs in her background anymore. Instead, as a nurse-midwife, Aishah is an advanced practice nurse, just like a nurse practitioner, who can care for people of reproductive abilities at all stages, including through delivery. As opposed to some OB/GYN scenarios, in which a doctor might only be present in the room when your baby is ready to be born, midwives remain with their patient as much as possible. (Assuming that’s what the patient actually wants, of course.)
“It’s a mainstay of midwifery care that we’re right there with the patient in the room,” she explained. “We don’t want to run in when the baby is crowning and just catch the baby. We want to be there with you coaching through it. We’ve been with you through the pregnancy and we’re not going to walk away while you’re in labor.”
She added that the midwife model of care is a holistic and natural approach to a woman's pregnancy that is highly focused on informing and educating patients so they can be empowered to make the best decisions for their own care.
They also touched on other aspects of women’s health that Aishah encounters, such as the fact that maternal and neonatal mortality rates are higher in pregnant people of color. Aishah pointed to a severe lack of education for Black women and pregnant people, as well as high levels of stress from generational trauma, racism, and medical bias, as contributing to some of that higher rate link. For example, she explained how stress can lead to physical complications during pregnancy, including higher blood pressure and higher blood sugar, which then increases the risk for pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, and preterm delivery or stillbirth.
“They don’t invest in us enough to give us the courtesy to be aware of what we need to know to make informed decisions on our health,” said Aishah. “It’s a combination of that cultural experience and the lack of dedication to us as Black women.”
Financial Health and Wellness
Speaking of investing, Aishah spoke to Nurse Alice about her other passion in life: financial health. In fact, she believes (and rightly so) that financial health is an important part of women’s health, especially for nurses.
She’s a big advocate for those going into nursing school to have a clear financial plan for how they will fund their school, as well as how they will repay their student loans upon graduation. She shared with Nurse Alice that she herself went through nursing school convinced that she would have funding secured for her education, but when it fell through, she felt “despair.” However, she didn’t give up.
In fact, you could say that Aishah has put her money where her mouth is, because she was able to pay down over $80K in her own student loans in a little over two years. Despite being rejected twice, she was able to use a loaner payment that she applied for after she had already graduated from her graduate program. The experience showed her that she wanted to ensure that other nurses could learn more about the financial resources available to them.
“I wanted to help nurses to not only know these resources are available to them, but how to secure them,” she explained.
To help nurses and nursing students do just that, Aishah created a toolkit called “How to Go to Nursing School for Free,” a step-by-step guide to improve your chances of getting through school with minimal financial impact. The toolkit is only $67 and is applicable for both those thinking of going to nursing school or RNs who still have student loan debt. It covers aspects such as scholarship opportunities, federal loan repayment programs, living stipends and more, all with the intent of helping nurses pay down and stay out of debt.
Aishah also utilizes her social media, including Instagram and her YouTube channel to educate nurses on many aspects of understanding and managing their financial health, including:
- Using FSA and HSA accounts
- Life insurance
- Medical plans
- 401(k) contributions
- Retirement planning
In fact, Aishah’s work on her YouTube channel has actually allowed her to utilize her minor in broadcast journalism. Although she decided that ultimately, broadcast journalism wasn’t the path for her, she has managed to find a way to combine her love of journalism with her passion for health. “It’s been a mixture of the two that I’m pretty happy with,” she told Nurse Alice.
In the end, Aishah just wants to ensure that nurses–who give so much–are taken care of financially too.
“In nursing, we’ve secured a very stable profession and we have a stable income, but a lot of times, if we don’t do the right things with our resources, we can find ourselves living paycheck to paycheck like any other person with a job,” she said. “Nurses have a lot of financial resources available to us that we need to be able to tap into.”
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