From the tennis court to the delivery room, Sabrina Capannolo Eisinga’s road to becoming an OB-GYN nurse practitioner wasn’t a usual one.
Her tennis career began as a student-athlete at Silverado High School. In 2001, Eisinga — who had been playing since she was 8, including on the backyard court her parents provided — was Nevada state champion. She also was named to the high school All-American Team.
Next, she attended Arizona State University on a full tennis scholarship, majoring in kinesiology. While at ASU she recorded the most overall singles wins on the team in 2003-04 with 28 and rose to the Sweet 16 at the Pac-10 Championships. She beat the NCAA’s defending champion before turning pro.
Five years playing professional tennis took her across the globe, playing in Italy, Spain, Slovakia, New Zealand, Mexico, Nicaragua, Canada, and Czechoslovakia.
“It helped me grow as a person, made me more mentally tough,” said Eisinga. “It made me appreciate commitment, become more independent.”
Like most young female tennis stars, she started on a professional satellite tour with the hope of earning enough points to join the Women’s Tennis Association’s (WTA) elite circuit. Her wins didn’t pile up enough, however, to join the WTA tour, where players have their own trainers and people carrying their bags.
“It wasn’t glamorous,” Eisinga said of her pro career. “I was traveling by myself, with no coach or no physical trainer. I couldn’t afford a trainer. I was always trying to find housing because hotels were so expensive. I was breaking even or losing money. I got burnt out.”
It was time for a change.
Long an admirer of the health care professions — a sister is now a physician and a brother is in his third year of medical school at UNR — she earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing at Nevada State University and began working at Sunrise Hospital in labor and delivery. She married Les Eisinga, '03 BSBA - Real Estate, and '04 BSBA - Finance, a former UNLV and University of Oregon tennis star who now works in commercial real estate.
“I liked labor and delivery because it was fast-paced,” said the mother of two young children.
Today, she can tell you that often the bigger men are, and the tougher they act, the more likely they are to faint as they watch a woman in the birthing process. She’s seen them pass out when their loved one got an epidural or when a physician began a cesarean section.
“We were able to catch the men before they got hurt,” she said, laughing.
She thrived in her position, enjoyed talking with patients and their loved ones. She liked the hands-on responsibility of timing and coaching the expectant mom to breathe through contractions, tracking her blood pressure, monitoring the baby’s heart rate to make sure the baby is not experiencing any distress, administering medications, and preparing a mother for a C-section if there were complications.
And once the baby was born, she enjoyed assisting a new mother as she learned how to breastfeed and care for her new infant. She found real reward in delivering care with empathy and compassion and often stayed in touch with patients long after they left the hospital.
Yet as much as she enjoyed her work, she wanted more responsibility and a new challenge, so she enrolled in UNLV’s nurse practitioner program. During her clinical rotations, she met UNLV OB-GYN Dr. Jyoti Desai and nurse practitioner Marie Mitchell.
“They had such a passion for what they do, you wanted to emulate them,” Eisinga said. When she graduated in December, she was thrilled that the UNLV School of Medicine asked her to join its OB-GYN team.
In her new role she’ll be delivering primary health care to women. This includes well-woman care — annual assessments including screening evaluation, immunizations based on age and risk factors, and counsel on preventative care. She’ll direct prenatal management and work with women on family planning, fertility, and urogynecology. Doctors deliver the babies.
“I’ll be working more closely with patients, which I love,” Eisinga said. “I’m able to see how I make a difference from the start.”
She looks forward to the joyful work of assisting in the process of healthy pregnancies, but understands there is another challenging side of her role — conveying the news of an unhealthy pregnancy, or helping patients process the grief and pain that comes with miscarriages, the absence of a fetal heartbeat during an ultrasound, or a birth defect.
“I have found that the mental and emotional toughness you need in athletics, which includes the ability to manage stress, has helped in nursing,” she said. “I never thought tennis would help me in nursing, but it has.”