Wow, I can’t believe I am writing my final student midwife blog post! My previous post detailed completing my dissertation and delivery suite placements. A lot has happened since then, including: Birth Unit and Community placements, a case-based presentation, personal statement writing, job interviews, securing the dream job and finally, receiving my midwifery PIN number from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
Let’s begin with my birth unit and community placements. I had a 6-week placement block on a stand-alone birth unit. Although stand-alone birth units do tend to be quieter, they are fantastic for building your leadership skills. This is predominantly because you have to take into consideration the ambulance transfer time of getting the woman in your care from the birth unit to the hospital if there is a requirement to do so. In comparison, when you are working in a birth unit within a hospital, you know that you could take somebody to delivery suite in a matter of minutes if an emergency situation occurred. When working in a stand-alone birth unit it’s really important to act on intuition and prioritising the safety of both the mother and baby in your care. Therefore it’s crucial to pick up on any potential complications early.
Fortunately, throughout my time at the birth unit no women within myself and my mentors care required a transfer to the main hospital unit. However, it was still really important that I continually reflected on the care that I was providing in order to build my skills and understanding of complications that may require transfer.
In this particular birth unit they also offered a triage service for women living in the area, so for example we were able to see women with their first episode of reduced fetal movements as well as provide clinics for women having their normal antenatal appointments or 36-week checks. It was really lovely to be able to provide 36-week antenatal checks at the birth unit; predominantly because if it was quiet you could spend so much time with the women. As birth looms closer it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to sit down, offer a cup of tea and discuss any particular anxieties or fears they may be experiencing. Personally, I feel this is extremely beneficial to their mental health, as well as their personal values and attitudes towards their own birth experience. Furthermore, you’re able to document their birth preferences in their maternity notes so the midwife who ends up providing labour care has these at hand. When completing a 36-week check in clinic, you may have only 15-20 minutes to do a complete antenatal examination, as well as discuss their mental health and suitability for birthing on a low-risk unit. Whereas, on one occasion when no other women were on the birth unit, I was able to spend an hour and a half with one couple.
Following my placement block at the Birth Unit, I went straight into my final 6 weeks of placement as a student midwife in the community. I requested the same mentors that I had in first year which was so lovely as it really consolidated to both myself and them the learning and development that had occurred throughout my years of training. As a third year student midwife it is expected that you are able to work autonomously as a practitioner whilst using the support of your mentor if required. This meant that I was able to complete community visits by myself as long as I called my mentors and updated them on all the women. Personally, this really built my confidence as I was able to complete full antenatal/postnatal checks independently – I felt like a proper midwife! And made me realise that I was ready to qualify.
Furthermore, it really strengthened my time-keeping and prioritising skills. In the mornings all the midwives would meet at the community base, and then divide the women that required a visit. When I received the women that I would be visiting, I would always make sure that I either called or messaged them with the time that I would aim to visit so that they are able to plan their day accordingly. One piece of feedback that I have received from friends/family is that they find it frustrating when they’re unaware of when their midwife or health visitor is visiting them. The way I see it is that it takes 2 minutes (if that) to send a text message, therefore it was important to me to complete this prior to leaving the base and starting the visits of the day.
Throughout this placement block I also had to put together my personal statement as jobs were starting to be advertised on NHS jobs aimed at our university cohorts. I applied for two trusts in the end, with one of them being where I had completed all of my placements as a student midwife. I then had two interviews – one in October and then one after I had finished university in December. They both had very similar set-ups which were composed of some form of test, group work and individual interviews. I feel extremely fortunate to have been offered both of the jobs that I applied for, however ultimately my heart was already invested in the trust that I had completed my training in, therefore I very happily accepted!
In my final week of placement as a student midwife, I also had to fit in my summative assessment. A summative assessment occurs when you sit down with your mentors as well as your tutor from university to discuss your progression, as well as give you a mark for your clinical/practical skills. The day after the summative, we then had to complete a case-based presentation in university. I decided to base mine on the decision whether or not to perform a membrane sweep. This assessment consists of presenting to your lecturers and some of your peers for 5 minutes on your subject area, and how the topic applied to a particular women that you have cared for. For 10 minutes you are then questioned on the evidence base behind the subject area. It’s safe to say that this was pretty full on for our last week of university, but I was very happy with my results.
Technically, our last day of university was the 13th November. Myself and my cohort had a celebration day where we discussed what was required of us in terms of registering with the Nursing and Midwifery Council. We then proceeded to eat our body weights in picnic food! It was absolutely lovely, especially when it was followed by a weekend away with most of the cohort in a big barn with bubbles and hot tubs!
At the University of the West of England, they have what’s called a retrieval period. Therefore technically from November until January we were still university students as the retrieval period allows time for people to make up hours if required, as well as retake any modules. Although we were prepared that it may take some time for our work to be sent to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, being the impatient person that I am, it felt like forever since we have finished university!
However, this past week not only have we received our classifications, but we have finally received our PIN numbers. Therefore, I am now just waiting on a start date from my trust so that I can start working as Leah Buswell – Registered Midwife!
I really hope that my blog posts throughout the years have been helpful. If anyone would like to follow a journey of a newly qualified midwife then please feel free to follow the lovely Amy from my cohort on Instagram – @newlyqualified. Thank you.
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