**UPDATE** May 2016
A lot has changed at Pratt since I first wrote this entry. It has become Sentera-Pratt, and the midwives Julie and LeeAnn are now practicing elsewhere. Please read the review below anyway- we stand by our assessments of all of the amazing care providers listed below and the support they offer to their patients, no matter where they now practice.
Obstetrics care in the Greater Fredericksburg, Virginia Area ROCKS. On Feb 5th, I had the pleasure of attending the Girls' Night Out at Pratt Medial Center for Women. Dr. Scott Walker, M.D., Certified Nurse Midwives Julie Weathers and Lee-Ann Parker, and Nurse Practitioner Brenda Hagen held a great night full of delicious snacks, fun photo-booths and great information for women in all stages of life.
Dr. Walker's passion for "not just evidence based medicine, but care based medicine" was apparent through the whole event. He spent the better part of 45 minutes explaining very highly scientific concepts in a way that was easy to understand and not in the least condescending. He has been (and continues to be) a part of the major studies that indicate the best ways to encourage a successful VBAC, and is proud of the quality of care patients receive at his clinic. He enthusiastically supports a women's autonomy in her birth and her health care, and "wants just to be the medical nerd available to help".
In order to maintain a small and intimate practice that is based on care for and respect of his OB patients, he has two Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) who work with him. They do the vast majority of the vaginal births for the practice, leaving Dr. Walker joking since they take all of the non-surgical births, he is "left with 100% C-section rate." (The actual C-section rate for the practice as a whole is around 17%, while the C-section rate for the State of Virginia is 37%).
Midwives Julie Weathers and Lee-Ann Parker describe a CNM as being "the link between 'just pregnant' and being all hooked up to the medical interventions for high risk babies" They are patient. They are knowledgeable. They have a model of care that remembers that childbirth is a normal physiological process, and act as if all birth is normal until they know its not. They like to joke that they have trained Dr. Walker well in non-surgical birth, and he laughingly agrees.
And when you're done having babies, Brenda Hagen, NP is the woman to see. She can seem quiet and unassuming, but has a smile that will make all of her patients comfortable and she is smart as a whip. She is kind and compassionate, she has a soft spot for post-menopausal women's health, and she has an awesome IUD pin she wears on her jacket, which makes her a-ok in my book!
Cards on the table, I already loved this practice before this event. I didn't need to be convinced that Dr. Walker and his amazing team are educated, caring individuals who continue to be informed on women's health and really want to develop a rapport of respect and care with their patients. I have seen them work individually and together with and for their patients time and again, which is why I unabashedly shared this event to everyone who would listen. But after this event, listening to Dr. Walker and his team, it became apparent to me:
You guys, I have my First Professional Crush.
Everything they said that night resonated with me as a woman and as a doula. Everything about their practice speaks to me on such a fundamental level that I wanted to stand up and clap. And not just any clap, that cheering, "Whoop whoop!" kind of clap we only see on TV and in parents watching their kids play little league. I held my tongue, and (kept clapping to an appropriate minimum), but I had to tell you all.
My clients are grateful for the options of high-quality and personalized obstetrics care in Fredericksburg! I can't wait to continue meeting and sharing with you the great doctors and midwives we have in his area!