Applying for a course
When you have received all the application documentation, it is important to make the most of your first opportunity to gain access to this course. This means making every effort to complete the form correctly, neatly, legibly and truthfully.
Make a copy and have a practise run first; it is a good idea to then get this looked at by someone else for spelling mistakes and errors and then, when you are happy with it, complete the final form. It is a very good idea to keep a copy of this as you are likely to be asked questions about your past experiences and any statements you have made on your application at your interview. Applications for degree programmes should be submitted to the University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) in the autumn of the year before the course starts.
If you are not successful in being selected for interview, it is reasonable to at least try to get some feedback from the university about the reason(s) for this. However, this information is not always forthcoming and so it might be helpful to seek advice from someone who is involved with either the NHS or the university environment to see if they can help you identify any reasons from your application.
However, if you REALLY want to be a midwife, such a small thing as falling at the first fence should not deter you and the advice is always to try again…and this might be again and again. If you are persistent you really should get noticed and hopefully, if you have the correct requirements, you will eventually be invited for an interview. If the process has gone on for too long, you might also consider looking at an alternative university, but it is important to ensure that the course meets your needs, especially if this involves travelling some distance from your home.
If you are invited for an interview, you should have some time to prepare for it, and you should be given some information about what it will entail. Interviews vary, but often involve some general discussions, group work and role-play. Some universities ask you to complete a timed written essay on a topic which you should have been given information about prior to the interview. Interviewers are looking for candidates with personalities who will work well within a group/cohort of students. It is therefore important to participate appropriately in these activities to demonstrate your ability to work as part of a team, as well as showing your leadership qualities. There needs to be a balance between dominating the group or discussion but also being noticed. It is a good idea to think about this and consider any past experiences you have had and how you have reacted to such situations in the past. If it has been some time since you were in the academic environment, you might be feeling a bit lacking in confidence, but this is all taken into account and the best advice is to be yourself.
The interviewers will also be looking for students who are self-directed and who can prioritise their workload and manage their time effectively.
As well as the above, there will be a face-to-face interview, usually with at least two interviewers who are likely to be a university lecturer and a practising midwife. To make the most of yourself during this interview, you should prepare in advance so that you are well informed about recent news related to midwifery, infant and other health care related issues. This might mean watching the news and reading the papers for a few months beforehand. It may even be worth subscribing to a midwifery journal, such as the MIDIRS Midwifery Digest (www.midirs.org), and also reading a few textbooks about midwifery and childbirth before you go for interview, or looking on the internet for useful websites.
You can ask your local library for help if they do not have the books you need. MIDIRS hosts a discussion forum on its’ website (www.midwiferyforum.org) where you can get an idea from current students about their experiences of being a student midwife. There are also websites for women who are pregnant or who have recently had babies; these websites might give you an insight into what motherhood is like if you have not yet experienced this for yourself, or what it is like for others where you have. All of this preparation will make sure you have a good understanding of the role of the midwife and what support they can offer new parents.
Then, if you are asked what a midwife does, you will be less likely to respond “delivers babies” but will instead be able to demonstrate that you have a sound understanding of what the role actually involves.
The courses are demanding as you will be undertaking academic study whilst also working clinical shifts. You therefore need to be able to demonstrate that you have an understanding of the rigours and demands of the course, that you are able to organise your time effectively and that you have as much support as possible from your partner, family and friends.
There is great competition for each student place and you are likely to be told that for every place available on the midwifery course, there are three or four people applying.
This is why you need to be able to convey your strong commitment to the course and to your future midwifery career. Then the university can see that the place will be safe in your hands and why you are the one to offer it to.
General advice in preparation for your interview is that you:
- Ensure you meet the requirements of the university
- Have a clear understanding of the course programme content
- Keep a copy of the application form and be conversant with what you put in it!
- Be able to support the reasons why you wish to become a midwife
- Give thought to answering any questions and avoid single responses (yes/no) where more information is needed. Most questions will be designed to ask you how or why you think something – be prepared to give a detailed answer
- Be prepared to ask a few relevant questions about the course.
Reiterating our previous advice: should you fail to be invited for interview, it is important not to become downhearted. The competition for every midwifery student place is immense and there will be several other applicants also pursuing their dream of becoming a midwife. It is important to regard the whole application process as a positive learning experience. Try to get some feedback from the university if you can, and then, apply again – and try again…and again – until you succeed!
Click the links below for general information on midwifery, applying for courses and more.