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Shardina Blomont-Frederick talks about...

ShardinaYouth healthcare at heart

Registered Nurse (RN) Shardina Blomont-Frederick enjoys her job tending to the youngest residents of St. Maarten at Ministry of Public Health Social Development and Labour's VSA Department of Collective Prevention Services (CPS), Section Youth Healthcare.

The 37-year-old married mother of two believes that giving children the best care from young gives them a healthy start to an active life. CPS' Section Youth Healthcare is divided into two main programmes: a school programme and a Baby Wellness Clinic. Blomont-Frederick rotates between both programmes as an RN.

She sees herself as a hardworking person, who also knows how to have fun and a good laughter. "I am a friendly person, who enjoys helping others, but at the same time always straight to the point... I enjoyed my childhood growing up in St. Maarten – from attending school to playing outside with my family and friends, riding bike and going to the beach – it was fun."

Blomont-Frederick received her educational moulding in her native St. Maarten at St. Joseph Primary School and Milton Peters College (MPC) Mavo before relocating to the Netherlands in 1996 to study nursing at Mondriaan College Zorg en Welzijn in The Hague.

She returned home to St. Maarten in July 2009 to give back to the country that had given her so much more. Health and Beauty spoke to her about her career and life.

Why did you decide to pursue your studies in the Netherlands rather than at IFE in Curaçao or via SMMC's Education Department (which had an agreement to train RNs via IFE back then)?

When I left St. Maarten to further my studies in the Netherlands, I was not on scholarship. I applied for one after some years. I was settled in the Netherlands and was therefore given a scholarship to finish my studies there.

At what point in your life did you discover your love for the healthcare field?

Health was not my first option. I found it interesting, but my passion was more in accountancy. I chose accountancy as my package to continue MAVO 4 and forgot about nursing, seeing I didn't have biology in my package. I was told I could not pursue a career in nursing. Into my second year of accountancy, I realised it wasn't what I had hoped. I can remember sitting down with my brother and talking about nursing and telling him I could not pursue a career in health because I didn't have biology in my package. He carried me to a place called "Studie Informatie Punt STIP" where they had all information about schools and what one needed for entry. I did not need Biology after all, just needed all my subjects to be on the "D Niveau" educational level – which is the highest in Mavo. My brother told me anything was possible in the Netherlands. I found a school, had an interview and the rest is history.

Places worked before YHC Baby Clinic and in what positions?

I worked at St. Lucas Andreas Ziekenhuis in Amsterdam from 2003 to 2009; at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) from 2009 to 2010 and at Mullet Bay Clinic from 2010 to 2012.

Some young professionals say it's difficult to find employment when they return home with their degrees, what was your experience?

I did not experience any difficulties. When my husband and I decided to move back home, we both started looking for jobs. I told a friend who was already working at SMMC that I was planning to move down and thinking on working there. She emailed me and told me who I should contact. I guess she also gave the person my email address, because I was contacted in no time. We had an interview over the phone and everything else went smoothly from there.

How did you end up at Youth Healthcare's Baby Clinic and when did you start there?

I started to work at the Youth Healthcare in 2012. I enjoyed working at my previous jobs, but was ready for something different – a new challenge within the nursing field along with more flexibility.

What do your tasks at Youth Healthcare's Baby Wellness Clinic entail?

Mainly monitoring the growth and development of babies and toddlers that visit the clinic. I also administer the vaccines indicated for the child during that visit in accordance with our National Immunisation schedule. In addition, I educate parents on childcare as it relates to healthy eating habits, dental care and how to stimulate their child's motor skills and development. I educate and motivate all mothers about breastfeeding as breast milk is very important as it contains all the vitamins and nutrients your baby needs in the first six months. Furthermore, I educate fathers on their role where that is concerned. An eye test is done when a toddler is three to three-and-a-half years old.

Best aspects of being in this position?

I would have to say seeing the development of the child after each visit... I rotate between the school programme and the Baby Wellness Clinic. I would see an infant when their parents visit the clinic for the first time and the next time might be months after. It is also remarkable to see how much a baby has developed (the eye contact with you, while making various sounds) and to see how well parents have adapted in the role of parenthood.

How do you think you contribute to a better society via your position?

My colleagues and I, both within the school programme and at the Baby Wellness Clinic, educate the community about communicable diseases that are still lurking around in certain countries and why it is important to have their kids vaccinated to prevent such diseases. By us also giving information session to schools, we strive for a healthier society.

What differentiates you from other RNs in St. Maarten?

I think all nurses get the same educational grounding when studying nursing – some may receive more training or do extra courses like myself after their studies, but we all have the same goal and that is to help our community, whether young or old, mental or disabled. We do this the best we can.

How do you think the Youth Healthcare field can be enhanced in St. Maarten (for children from birth to four years old)?

I think that Youth Healthcare can be enhanced if it continues to provide information sessions to expectant parents on childbirth, maternal care, breastfeeding and childcare in collaboration with other stakeholders in the field as well as by giving information about the different and various positions of breastfeeding and different cries (communication) of a baby and providing information leaflets, brochures on safety car seats and safety at home.

Future goals (personal and professional)?

Personal future goals: My husband and I recently just finished building our home so this is a general goal already achieved. I would like to see the second floor along with surroundings completed and would like to travel more. I would also like to run the St. Maarten Day relay race. Professional goals: I would like to specialise as a Youth Healthcare Registered Nurse and follow more training pertaining to the school programme.

Hobbies?

I love music and love to sing, watch a good movie, try out new recipes and work out with Crossfit St. Maarten.

Pet Peeve?

Parents who miss their appointments without notice and call a day or two later (or not at all) to reschedule; and expect to receive an appointment the next day.

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