'You find your niche'

The Baltimore Sun

Salary $40 an hour

Age 44

Time on the job Two months

How she got started: After getting her degree 22 years ago in nursing from the University of Delaware, Kegley went to work at Johns Hopkins Hospital in its bone marrow transplant unit. She was there for six years before joining Franklin Square Hospital's postpartum unit. It was there that she discovered she has a knack helping new mothers master breast feeding. Ten years ago, she earned certification as a lactation consultant from Georgetown University. She later received certification as a childbirth educator.

"It just evolved," Kegley said. "That's the neat thing about nursing. You find your niche, and opportunities open up."

For a number of years she worked as a lactation consultant at the hospital. At the same time she worked with Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs as a training coordinator and certifier. In August, she moved to her current position at Franklin Square Hospital Center.

Typical day: Kegley is responsible for updating curriculum, keeping class information current and creating new classes for birth and family education at the hospital. This includes scheduling class times and instructors as well as promoting the classes. She also trains and evaluates new instructors. Kegley will teach several of the classes herself, including prepared childbirth; breast feeding; infant/child CPR; and anesthesia and pain relief for labor and birth.

She typically works three days a week, sometimes putting in 12-hour days and working occasional evenings and weekends. She's also available by phone and e-mail on her days off.

"We fill almost all of our classes and have a really good program. I love the challenge of providing the best programming for the community."

Breast-feeding education: Kegley said they teach the benefits of breast feeding. But they also emphasize techniques for getting off to a good start and knowing when and where to get help once women have started breast feeding.

The good: "I love the autonomy of my position, and I love making a difference in the lives of young people who are about to become parents."

The bad: "Not being able to leave the job behind," says Kegley, who acknowledges being a type-A personality who often brings work home with her.

Still to come: In November, the hospital will pilot a four-week comprehensive childbirth education series. In January, it will launch an online interactive childbirth class and mother and infant care class in an attempt to cater to busy lifestyles.

Philosophy: "I always want to give 100 percent. Our primary goal is to meet the needs of the community. So the classes are centered around what the community needs."

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