My husband’s been promoted! Fantastic news for the whole family, I’m so proud of him.
But there it is again, that sinking feeling. It will be the ninth move we’ve made in eleven years, and I’ve only just started a new job as a midwife at the local hospital.
My husband is in the Army. We have a great life but moving around every eight months to two years takes its toll on my progression and career as a midwife. I’ve only been at this hospital for four months.
I’ve just finished my induction and competences… again! This is my sixth midwifery post, four in hospitals and two in Germany working for SSAFA as a community midwife. I’m the queen of interviews (it still surprises me that one look at my CV hasn’t put employers off with the thought of me moving so frequently), and I still don’t understand why my CRB takes so long when I have it done so often!
I’m always the ‘new midwife’ assumed to be newly qualified, and colleagues are wary until they get to know me. There are so many different ways of doing the same thing, so many different pieces of equipment that do the same job, and so many different sets of notes and computer systems telling the same story… yes, I might not know how this one works but I have another four ways of doing it, if anyone’s interested? (they usually aren’t).
‘Know it all midwife’
The frustrations of not seeing the best practice at times, and the unspoken time you need to give before you can gently suggest trying a different way of doing something is hard. No one wants to be seen as the ‘know it all midwife’ from another trust.
My progress is stunted due to having to repeat basic competences over and over for trust insurance purposes, instead of spending that time developing new skills. It’s difficult to get on training courses because trusts are reluctant to invest in me because I may be leaving soon, and if they do take the risk I have to commit to being there for at least another year… if only I had the choice.
Unfortunately with military life it is often difficult for the spouse to maintain a career. With two children I’ve struggled with childcare issues when my husband is deployed for six months and we are far from family (we now face 12-month deployments!), and maintaining my midwifery registration can be a challenge at times.
I will admit I have thought it would be easier to just leave midwifery all together. Our last two moves have been after only eight months, so I have chosen to commute and stay over in between shifts this time, at my own expense, just to extend my time at this hospital.
‘The miracle of birth’
People can’t understand why I don’t leave and get a job at my local hospital… if only it was that easy. But one thing is for sure, no matter where I work, the miracle of birth doesn’t change, and my passion for midwifery drives me to continue to juggle and fight to keep my midwifery qualification and the job I love.
When I’m supporting women and their families it doesn’t matter which hospital or community setting I’m in, what matters is that the experience for that family is the best I can facilitate.
I am blessed to have found my passion and know wholeheartedly that this is the job for me. I’m also thankful that midwifery skills are transferable no matter where we are posted, and I can continue to do the job I love. I’ve also learnt so much from my experience of different hospitals and countries, and have met many inspiring midwives and doctors along the way.
I am also very grateful for the support I have received from my current trust, which is why I do everything I can to stay here.
I hope one day life will be made easier for me and other midwives in my position (I know a few!), with standardised notes, computer systems and equipment. Until then, I will continue like I always have – making my way across the country and beyond, meeting inspiring women and colleagues along the way, moulding and shaping me into an even more experienced practitioner.
I understand that change can be good, but please not for a while this time!