PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Christina Marea

“Your wellbeing is the most important thing. If you’re not well, you can’t do the work that’s important to you. If you’re not well, you can’t do work that’s going to be meaningful and impactful. Take care of yourself first.”

School of Nursing

Nursing, PhD 2020

Assistant Professor at Georgetown University

Christina‘s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss Christina’s fascinating journey from midwifery to Doctors Without Borders to pursuing her PhD in nursing, the ways she prioritized her physical and mental wellbeing while working on her doctorate, and her advice for setting boundaries and finding alignment with your work.

Learn More About Christina‘s Story

I began my PhD at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in the fall of 2013, about four months after returning from a mission in South Sudan with Doctors Without Borders where I worked in as midwife in Gendrassa, a newly established refugee camp receiving Sudanese refugees. I was responsible for the maternity ward including a staff of traditional birth attendants including Jamila (left) and an interpreter Hawah (right). There was an outbreak of Hepatitis E due to unsafe water and sanitation in the camps. Hep E has a high maternal mortality rate, and contributes to significant fetal demise and preterm birth. This was my first experience having women in care die. It was devasting for the women, families and children, and for me as a clinician. I began my PhD not yet having fully processed this experience; however, I left with a deep commitment to caring for marginalized people and preventing maternal death.

I met Ebony Marcelle, Director of Midwife for Community of Hope, in 2010 when I started working as CNM at Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C. She modeled incredible care, taught me how to be a better midwife and human, and became a dear friend. I left that practice in 2012, but we stayed close. In 2019, we began working together again as advocates for D.C. to start our own Maternal Mortality Review Committee, which we now serve on together. Many of the fatalities we review demonstrate ways that racism impacts perinatal outcomes, and how many birthing people are lost in the postpartum interconception period. In 2020, we both had pandemic babies and experienced the devastating beauty of the postpartum period. During my maternity leave, we wrote a grant to reimagine postpartum care, and received funding. We are currently developing and piloting a 12-month model of postpartum care that centers the voices, needs, and preferences of Black birthing people. Being able to do research, practice clinically, and grow families alongside my work-life-partner-friend is the most unexpected joy in my professional life.