National Nurses Week: Sue Combs, RN

In honor of National Nurses Week (May 6-12), join us in celebrating the many wonderful and invaluable nurses who work with and impact our programs!

Sue CombsMeet Sue

Sue is a new addition to the Healthy Start team in Baker County. She talks about the trajectory of her nursing career and how she became passionate about working with moms and babies.

  • Name: Sue Combs
  • Title: Healthy Start Program Manager
  • Organization: Florida Department of Health in Baker County

I am a Registered Nurse that began my nursing career after my children were older. I spent the first 17 years of my nursing career as a staff/charge nurse in a level III Labor and Delivery unit. Prior to this career, I assumed that having a baby was a “healthy and somewhat safe” life event. Nothing could have been further from the truth. As I encountered many medically complex women and newborns, I learned that the beginning of life can wreck havoc on both the newborn and the mother. My love for this season in my career prompted me to receive certification in “Advanced Fetal Monitoring” and “Neonatal Advanced Life Support”, where I had the privilege of teaching and guiding my peers.

Another aspect of my job in Labor and Delivery was precepting nursing students and new employees. I remembered all too well that a good preceptor could make all the difference in your learning experience. During my 17 years in Labor and Delivery I took a break for a year and worked for a group of well-respected perinatologists. It was during this time that I learned the art of obtaining a pedigree and providing counseling to pregnant women regarding maternal age and genetic concerns. I also educated women regarding screening/diagnostic exams common in the prenatal setting.

The past four years of my nursing career have been spent as a Research Nurse. I was initially employed as a coordinator for a long-term longitudinal study called, “The National Children’s Study.”  This research endeavor was meant to follow a child in utero through age 25 and observe how the environment affects our children through questionnaires and specimen collection. Unfortunately due to funding, this study ended.  I continued to work with University of Florida in the Department of Pediatric/Neonatal Research. I spent 9 months in this position and count this as perhaps one of the richest learning experiences of my nursing career.

During this time, I was offered a position as a Healthy Start Program Manager in my home town.   While I loved my position as a Research Coordinator, I knew that Healthy Start would enable me to work with a population that I am familiar with and passionate about.  My hometown is a rural community ladened with an increased risk of teen pregnancy and poor birth outcomes.  Healthy Start would be my avenue to connect with this maternal/newborn population. Without reservation, I accepted the position.