A society can be a great way for students to organise their own study days or other similar events locally and at a discounted rate, which is crucial when time and money are at a premium for many students.
The midwifery society at Huddersfield University was set up by Theresa Mason and Lauren Ramoth in 2012. Theresa and Lauren will be handing over the reigns to Angela Yates and Nicola Shaw when they graduate this month.
Here, Theresa, Lauren, Angela and Nicola (pictured above) explain why they set up the society in the first place, what it has achieved since it was born, and how it has enhanced their time at university.
What were the original aims when setting up the Huddersfield Midwifery Society?
Its primary aims were to provide midwifery students with evidence-based learning opportunities, as midwives are required to participate in continuing professional development, by engaging in appropriate learning activities.
It was the intention of the society to initiate student midwives on to this process by hosting a number of study days and events each academic year, in the locality and at a greatly reduced cost. The society also had a desire to combine three previously isolated cohorts, in addition to enhancing employment prospects and increasing knowledge and awareness of current issues in practice.
This would enable student midwives to effectively participate as part of a team, communicate efficiently with colleagues in practice, sharing knowledge and skills acquired and enable utilisation of the best available evidence.
How successful has the society been?
When the society became public knowledge, we were inundated with enquiries. Many student midwives were very keen to join, excited to discover how their learning experiences could be improved. Unexpectedly, we also received substantial interest from practising midwives, who often asked if we had spaces on our study days for them.
At the time of launching the society for the new academic year, we were the fastest-growing society of that time, and we soon grew into the largest society, with a total of 89 members; considering the total number of students over the three cohorts, this represents a student uptake of 79.5%.
In May 2013 we discovered that we had been nominated in two categories at the Annual Students’ Union Awards, one nomination for ‘Society of the Year’, and the second for ‘Student Activities Development’. We won the latter, which was especially pleasing as we were nominated by our peers at the Students’ Union, who acknowledged the hard work and dedication that we had invested.
In 2014 we were nominated by academics and students for being the most innovative society of the year; consequently we won the Students’ Union Award for ‘Society of the Year’ and ‘Student Personality of the Year’, an amazing achievement. In addition to this we were also shortlisted for the Student Nursing Times awards.
How do you find the time to incorporate society activities into your busy schedule with university and placements?
This is a question that many people, particularly other student midwives, have asked us. A midwifery degree is extremely demanding at the best of times, so it has been a challenge for us, but it has enabled us to enhance our own personal development.
We have established ourselves to be natural leaders, to shape and enhance student development and hopefully, future midwifery practice. Running of the society has taken commitment, determination and time. We believe that we have proven that the possibilities are endless, if you are dedicated and are passionate about a particular cause. If it is something that you have a keen interest in, you find the time, just as anyone else would who has personal interests.
What advice would you give to any student midwives wanting to set up their own society?
We would encourage them to be focused and determined as it is hard work at times, but so rewarding. They need to be organised and think ahead about what they would like to achieve annually and whether their budget allows this. They need to project manage so that each individual knows their role. Good communication between all committee members is key to success.
How have you benefited personally from being involved with organising the society activities?
Our knowledge and understanding has strengthened as we have to ensure we are up to date and understand current issues in midwifery; this enables us to provide relevant and thought-provoking study days. We have met some prolific speakers and their passion has kept us motivated and reiterated why we have chosen this as a lifestyle not just a job.
What prompted you to think about female genital mutilation as the theme of your autumn conference?
FGM is a very current issue in midwifery, after the Girl Summit and the RCM statement on FGM this year we wanted to provide students, midwives and health professionals with information that will help them in future practice. Midwives are increasing likely to come into contact with women who have undergone FGM; therefore we need to be prepared for how to care for women who have endured this.
We want health professionals to understand how to meet women’s emotional, physical and psychological needs as well to protect their family/unborn child from this breach of human rights and act of torture. We need to spread awareness of the importance of multi-agency and inter-professional working so that individuals carrying out the illegal practice can be prosecuted. (click the poster to view it in full size)
What plans are in place to continue the work of the society?
We are continually assessing the future of the society and are working hard on recruiting new committee members to work alongside us so they are ready to take over upon our graduation from university. We have an event planned for the new committee so they can become accustomed to the planning and running of society events and we are also in the process of organising another big conference for summer 2015.