I think than nurses provide the most care and best care that patients get.
- Rachel Breman
Ask 2002 Jack Kent Cooke Scholar Rachel Breman about her many accomplishments, and the 34-year-old nurse will modestly deflect the praise coming her way, saying “I’ve been very lucky in my professional life.” Instead, she will talk of the talented and dedicated teachers and mentors she has had, the patients she has served, and the many babies she has helped deliver.
How do we describe Rachel Breman? Nurse, humanitarian, linguist, wife, new mother (she and her husband, Matthew, just adopted a baby), Peace Corps volunteer, teacher, and a co-author of a highly respected handbook on family planning that is assigned to most medical students nationwide.
Rachel’s journey from undergraduate Latin American Studies major at Brandeis University to her current work with women, children, and newborns in underserved and under resourced communities worldwide, was a long and exciting trip with stops in Atlanta, Africa, and then back to the United States and Johns Hopkins University. She equates being named a Cooke Scholar to “hitting the lottery” and candidly admitted she applied at the last moment, not knowing a great deal about the program. “I completed the application on my honeymoon,” Rachel said. “My husband was thrilled.”
Rachel and Mathew met while she was in Niger with the Peace Corps. After they were married, Rachel completed her nursing studies. After graduation Matthew was assigned as the Peace Corps Country Director in Cape Verde, and Rachel volunteered at a national public hospital. “The nurses there actually did the deliveries, and they trained me how to basically be a nurse midwife,” she said. “I delivered about 50 babies.” Her future profession was coming into focus, and during her stay in that African island nation, she realized nursing would be her life’s work in public health.
For the past two years Rachel was working with doctors and nurses in the Dominican Republic to improve health services provided to women and children. Rachel split her time between the organization’s office in the Dominican Republic and her home in Watertown, MA.
Some people work their entire lives in a certain field or trade, but are never sure that it is “right” for them. Rachel does not fall into that category. She hasn’t ruled out going back to school to become a certified nurse-midwife or nurse practitioner, as she is “pretty dedicated to nursing.”
“I think that nurses provide the most care and best care that patients get,” Rachel said. “Doctors do a great job, but when it comes down to the day-to-day and the nitty-gritty of patient care, nurses do it, and I think we do it best.”