Where Are The Health Professionals??

July 14, 2014
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Lindsey Wimmer, RN, MSN, CPNP

My mind is still spinning from the incredible presentations and discussions at Stillbirth Summit 2014! There were a few ‘themes’ that emerged from the dialogue. Some were just questions that were asked more than once. One of those questions was

“Where Are The Health Professionals??”

Iabsent, too, was discouraged by the number of health professionals in attendance. To those that DID come – THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.  For taking the time, committing to your littlest patients and their families, and engaging in discussions that hope to make a difference.  Your presence does so much good for the hearts of grieving families.
I know that providers are often concerned that patient-driven events are “sob fests” where they will hear one person’s tragic story after another. I believe there is much to be learned from events with that type of program. However – that isn’t what this conference is! A quick glance at the esteemed panel of presenters will prove that some of the stillbirth world’s brightest, most passionate, and most current researchers from around the world were here to work together and with all of us. I was so happy to hear from almost every health professional in attendance that this event was worth every minute of their time. Interestingly, they also asked the question about other health professionals. “Where are our colleagues?”
As a health professional myself, I have taken their ‘side’ many times in these discussions.
  • I understand that they are very busy people with many demands for their time and resources.
  • I understand that they really do want the best for their patients and don’t try to cause further heartache.
  • I understand that there are systematic challenges in how they are trained or receive updates through accepted channels (especially in the area of perinatal loss).
  • I understand they are often caught between their patients, the extended families, the hospitals, the law or other health policies, insurance companies, and other organizations.


I am also a stillbirth parent and I have grown very tired of the excuses and the platitudes. It’s hard for me to imagine health care professionals as a group being “ok” with 26,000 stillbirths every year in the United States alone! Yet, that is what parents hear when they are told that “sometimes these things just happen.” It’s hard for me to imagine a single health professional telling their patient that this loved child was a practice run. Yet, that is what thousands of parents hear when they are told that “we’ll do better next time”. It’s hard for me to imagine a health professional who was ok getting through medical school or nursing school or psychology training with “D” grades. Yet, that is what parents hear when they are told their provider followed the minimum standard of care.
 I’ve heard all the excuses.
  • Yes – stillbirth is a complicated subject.
  • Yes – stillbirth is under-researched and you need more data.
  • Yes – stillbirth is a difficult subject to talk about.
To me – these excuses point out all the reasons why you should want and demand more!
These are the reasons we (the families) want to work WITH you!
  • You are the people at the bedside when families are devastated with bad news.
  • You should want answers.
  • You should want more research.
  • You should want a dialogue that makes this subject easier to address.
  • You should want tools for prevention and tools for bereavement support.
  • These things would all make your job easier and reduce the number of families who endure these tragedies.
Get-involved-dude-image2The easy route is to wait on the sidelines and expect someone else to take leadership and create simple instructions. That is accepting status quo. And I expect better from the health professions. I am tired of defending health professionals who aren’t interested in defending their patients. There will be many more opportunities in the future to become involved. If you can’t wait – let me know and I can help you find a way to utilize your skills, expertise, and resources. Or – I can put you in touch with someone who can.

The time has come that if you aren’t willing to be part of the solution,

you are part of the problem.






Thank you for all you are doing! As a stillbirth parent, I got that “we’ll do better next time” promise from my health care providers, and it angered my husband and I. Why was our current baby not important enough for you to do better this time? We will not be giving those providers who treat you like a herd of cattle and do not to listen to your concerns another chance! Thank you for trying to reach more health care professionals to get them to do more.

Deborah Simmons (@DebSimmonsPhD)

This is FABULOUS, Lindsey! I will be sharing this blog post on my website as a further shout-out to other health professionals who pass the ball to others. Or, as we found out at Stillbirth Summit, doctors and nurses DO NOT refer grieving parents to therapy or online resources! Thank you, again, for all you do!

Hi Shauna and Lindsey,

I read Lindsey’s article and I’m very interested in the topic of how we can get health professionals involved in this movement to prevent stillbirth to provide appropriate bereavement care to families impacted by the loss of a baby. I’m brand new to advocacy work, but I’m eager to be involved.

ACOG and other professional organizations seem like important partners. Are you already working with them? Have they been receptive? If not, did they provide a reason?

Is there a role for a committee dedicated to working with the health professions (maybe this already exists?)? I’d love to talk more about this topic, but I’m not sure what the appropriate venue is: ASAP? A web conference?

Thanks for raising the issue!

Hello Aurelia – ACOG in particular seems to want to shy away from the difficult topic of perinatal loss – stillbirth in particular. I can only guess it has to do with their liability concerns – what a shame – no?

Share via
Copy link