The story of Honey Mone’t Jones, an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in the MICU at UNC Medical Center, and her mother, Venus Standard, a Certified Nurse Midwife, and current Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Medicine and Department of Family Medicine, is not your typical mother-daughter story.
The story of Honey Mone’t Jones (pictured left), an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in the MICU at UNC Medical Center, and her mother, Venus Standard (pictured right), a Certified Nurse Midwife, and current Assistant Professor at the UNC School of Medicine and Department of Family Medicine, is not your typical mother-daughter story.
“I was a nurse first,” said Jones, with a laugh.
Standard previously had a number of jobs, including working as a photographer, massage therapist and an entrepreneur, as Jones, an only child, was growing up.
Originally both from New York, Jones came to North Carolina for college. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from UNC in 2000.
Jones’s original intent was to go to medical school. “I always thought when I was a kid that I was going to be a doctor. I knew I needed to do something in healthcare. That’s where I wanted to be: taking care of people, helping people get better, so the plan was to go to medical school.”
However, a slight change in plans occurred as her senior year of undergraduate neared. She started working in the hospital as a Health Unit Coordinator (HUC). While there, she gained an interest in critical care spaces. She also began to be drawn more to nursing, citing work-life balance.
After receiving her RN from Watts School of Nursing, she continued to work in a variety of critical and intensive care units. She eventually did end up earning her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Duke University School of Nursing.
Standard has enjoyed watching her daughter’s advancements and hard work. “It’s been amazing to watch her grow, and to watch her develop into the professional that she has,” she said.
Jones credits her perseverance to her mother. “All of that grit came from her,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jones’s parents had moved to the Tar Heel State. Standard had gone back to school, working toward a nursing degree of her own. She had previously worked as a doula while still living in New York. That got her interested in midwifery.
After obtaining her nursing degree, Standard worked as a travel nurse before accepting a job with UNC Health. Her specialty has been in labor and delivery. She also works as an assistant clinical professor in the UNC School of Medicine’s department of family medicine.
Standard has been a fierce advocate for maternal and child health, especially among vulnerable populations. She is the co-founder of 4moms2be, a group which offers support and resources to expectant mothers and their families. She also received the C. Felix Harvey Award – and the accompanying $75,000 grant – to Advance Institutional Priorities for her proposal regarding a program to train black women to become doulas. Standard has led that program training twenty black women to earn the DONA International Labor Doula certification, considered the “gold standard” in doula training. That grant has helped with another obstacle: the high training fees.
This doula training program was profiled by Sci NC, a division of PBS North Carolina.
As it stands, doula training is less extensive than training for nurses, doctors and other medical practitioners. “Your typical basic doula training is a very long weekend,” said Standard. “Because we produced an extensive, it actually flowed to be an eight-week program. But it’s the only profession that can have healthcare status that be trained in a very short time.”
Although Standard has made a considerable mark in her role in labor and delivery, as previously mentioned, this was far from her first professional success.
“If you set out to do something, you can do it,” said Jones of her mother. “There wasn’t really any area that she did not succeed in.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the maternal mortality rate for black women in the United States is more than three times that of white women. Standard seeks to lessen this disparity by connecting black women to black doulas. “They (doulas) bring an extra layer of security to the birth space for that laboring person,” said Standard.
Jones has been personally affected by this disparity. “I similarly was a statistic in laboring,” she said. “It’s being second-guessed when you present with symptoms…and you’re kind of passed off. Because black women have poorer outcomes, the medical community needs to shift its focus and say, ‘I need to pay attention to this patient.'”
Relating to this is the need to develop pathways that increase diversity among clinicians. Jones and Standard are hard at work on that, too.
“Unfortunately, disparities in health aren’t unique to just laboring moms,” said Jones. “It’s infiltrated all aspects of health and minorities remain underrepresented in a lot of spaces including clinical practice, research, education and leadership.”
Recently, Jones she was awarded funding from the Clinical Investment Committee for the Critical Care Advanced Practice Provider Support Program (CCAPPS). This program works to standardize onboarding for newly-hired critical care APPs and offer a pathway for APP professional development. Jones currently serves as a Diversity Champion for the UNC Department of Medicine to promote, celebrate and encourage engagement for diversity initiatives across the UNC Department of Medicine. She was as an evaluator for the Health Equity Academy scholars program under the HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity grant. She also co-drafted the diversity commitment statement for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
Jones says that through both her and her mother’s work, the ultimate goal is not just representation, but helping vulnerable and marginalized populations feel safer when receiving healthcare. “There’s certainly a distrust of the healthcare community among some populations…..I think having a provider who understands the experience of the population they are serving and likewise their historical trauma is the key to establishing that trust and improving patient outcomes.”
For both Jones and Standard, they hope their work makes an indelible imprint on the healthcare community and inspires others to do the same.