by Cathy Warwick, Chief Executive, The Royal College of Midwives
Indeed, just over a week ago I was lucky enough to be invited to speak at the opening event of a new midwifery society at Chester University.
The obvious question is perhaps: ‘what is a midwifery society?’ Well, they are part of a national trend in newly-formed groups set up at universities by midwifery students and supported by the University Student Union.
This burgeoning movement is relatively new but it is an exciting one. The societies provide local and national networking and professional development opportunities for midwifery students.
Societies are important because they enable student midwives to make connections and share ideas and experiences. They also encourage the concept that we can support and nurture each other through collective discussion.
These students are our next generation of midwives and we need to support, mentor and encourage them as they develop what is a very important concept. Staff members of the RCM are only too delighted to contribute in any way we can.
Activities so far include putting on conferences and study days, as well as fund raising. For example, in September the University of Swansea Midwifery Society had a sponsored bike ride to raise money for midwives@ethiopia.
My hope is that through membership and involvement in midwifery societies, these students will remain active and involved midwives throughout their careers.
The networks they develop as students can be of benefit to them as they progress in their midwifery careers.
I also hope of course that they will continue to be RCM members after they qualify and take advantage of the opportunities this brings, such as access to our large online learning resource.
The RCM gets a number of enquiries from midwifery societies on how they can establish stronger links with the RCM. As part of a review of RCM Branch governance, the RCM is looking at how the relationship between the RCM and midwifery societies can be strengthened. This may be by a process of affiliation to the local RCM branch.
Setting up a society is relatively easy and any student midwife can do it. Each university will have its own guidelines, but the RCM website outlines some basic steps for getting a society up and running.
Support is also available from the RCM Student Midwives Forum, where there is help available from people who have lots of experience in setting up and running societies.
Midwifery Societies have a vibrant twitter presence, which is how I stay in touch with all the wonderful things they are doing.
I am really excited by the development of midwifery societies. I hope midwifery students out there are as well, and fired up to start their own.