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Tuesday, February 20, 2018
HomeHealthCeteraMichele Reisinger: OB/GYN nurse, poet & storyteller #TEDMED

Michele Reisinger: OB/GYN nurse, poet & storyteller #TEDMED


So many inspiring stories gathered at this year’s TEDMED 2016 What if?event. Meet this TEDMED attendee who is a nurse poet and storyteller.

Honestly, it seemed like every person I met there embraced the arts with their science.

When OB/GYN clinical nurse and nurse educator Michele Reisinger, BSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, goes about her clinical work and teaching nursing students, she incorporates the power of story –– her own and the nursing students. She encourages them to share their clinical experiences through storytelling. Soliciting the student’s experiences has proven be a successful peer-to-peer teaching tool.

As a senior nurse clinician she has provided nursing care to many ethnically and racially diverse families during and after the birth of their child. She has a practice of asking the mother or grandmother to sing a lullaby in their native language to the newborn. She then asks if they would please translate the words of the lullaby in English for her.  Intuitively we know that singing to babies is very calming and connecting.  The science supports it too. Reisinger is building a repertoire of global lullabies.

Reposted with permission is her poem Birth Song.

Birth Song

by Michele Reisinger

It is a lowing

A deep, guttural sound

Part exhaustion, part pain, part anticipation

A mantra that is bellowed

A prayer without words

Sung softly, then louder

As each contraction wraps its fingers forward from her spine

And presses downward.

She lets her mind take leave

Lets her limbs become loose and heavy

As the sound resonates


Deep inside her chest.

Space does not contain it, this sound,

This call

This signal of new life.

It will finally build,

This birth song,

To a rallying crescendo

A climax

A fortissimo.

She catches it, then, inside her throat,

Uses it to bear down

To bring forth the voice that is waiting

To be heard.

Then, wait for it.

The silence.

The fermata

As time pauses briefly.

The moment

When her infant

First opens its eyes onto the world

And, himself, sings out.

This segment will be aired on HealthCetera on Thursday, December 22nd at 1:00 PM on wbai Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM and streamed live at You can also listen to it on our iTunes channel below:

Written by

Barbara Glickstein is a co-director of the GW Nursing Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, as well as a nurse, media guru and activist in New York City. She is the chairman of the board of Project Kesher and a consultant to many health care organizations and creative projects. She tweets and 'grams @blickstein.

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