– Sarah Jevons, 3rd year midwifery student, Middlesex University.
Middlesex University is a leading provider of nursing and midwifery education in London.
Key benefits of studying at Middlesex include excellent relationships with local Trusts and health care organisations, giving students the opportunity to have placements at some of London’s most prestigious hospitals including Chase Farm Hospital, North Middlesex University Hospital, Royal Free Hospital, Whittington Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital.
MIDIRS stops to chat with 3rd year midwifery student, Sarah Jevons, who is preparing to graduate in September.
So, Sarah – what made you want to study to become a midwife?
I have always been interested in women’s welfare and I find the physiology around reproduction fascinating. Being a part of women and families’ journeys is really special and makes the job meaningful. Now that I’m actually doing it, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Why Middlesex University?
I wanted to study at a university known for its midwifery course and where I could train at Trusts with diverse client-bases. I feel very fortunate to have worked with clients, students and midwives from such a wide variety of geographical, social, cultural and spiritual backgrounds. I’ve learnt such a lot from that.
Middlesex University has connections all over the world and I was very lucky to be selected with some of my fellow students to go to China on a two-week trip to a maternity unit in Changzhou to observe maternity care there. It was an amazing experience!
What does becoming a midwife mean to you?
I feel very fortunate to have trained in a country where midwifery-led care is the norm for healthy women and babies which means that I can look forward to working autonomously, providing care tailored to each woman and baby’s needs. I think this will bring a huge amount of satisfaction to my working life and knowing that I’ll be supported by colleagues from a multidisciplinary team means that ‘autonomous’ doesn’t become synonymous with ‘alone’.
What aspect of being a student midwife did you enjoy the most?
I loved having a bit more time to create a rapport with women and families. Midwives are very busy with so many demands on their time but as a student I felt I could support women that bit more and be their advocate. The women and families valued that continuity of care. I really hope that as a qualified midwife I will still be able to make the time for that.
The close camaraderie with my fellow students – and now lifelong friends – made the end of the course very emotional for me! I’ve met some wonderful people and I know we will stay in touch, wherever we end up working. I hope to work with them again in the future as I know they will all be excellent midwives.
What has been your greatest challenge as a student?
Going from a job where I was skilled and competent to a new environment where I was initially unskilled and incompetent was hugely challenging for me. I found it very difficult not being able to answer women’s questions and having to defer so often to my mentors. I distinctly remember this from my first meeting with my personal tutor. I told her I wished I could fast forward to the end of the third year so I could care for women with competence and confidence. When I last saw my personal tutor at the end of my third year, I remembered what I’d said to her three years previously. I felt quite emotional acknowledging that I am now where I had been longing to be at the beginning of the course.
It has been an overwhelming, physically, emotionally and intellectually challenging three years. And I’ve loved it.
Tell us about your aspirations?
Initially, I want to complete my preceptorship, to gain confidence in working autonomously. Once I have some experience, I would definitely like to do some work abroad, short or long term with the Red Cross, Médecins sans Frontières or VSO for example.
I would love to take on further study in the future, including undertaking the mentorship course and the examination of the newborn. And in a few years, when I find the time and the energy, I would like to tackle a Master’s.
When I am too old to be bending over birthing pools to monitor the fetal heart, I am keen to get into midwifery education. I have a history in teaching and would love to combine midwifery with that in the future.
Who, in the world of midwifery, have you found to be inspiring?
I had a particularly inspiring mentor in practice: Angeliki Zacharaki. Every day she actively taught me, made me question my practice and helped me to develop my own style. She also had the confidence to let me take the lead, trust my findings and plan care. She’s a wonderful midwife.
Which of MIDIRS services have you found most useful during your studies?
In every MIDIRS publication I have found useful and interesting research articles. Often I would find things relevant to my own or friends’ studies and forward them on. I also think that the Personal Reflective Learning Log at the back of Essentially MIDIRS is a great idea and very useful.
Whilst studying to become a midwife, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far?
That there are very few absolutes. We can assess women thoroughly and effectively but there is always an element of unpredictability. Once I learnt this, I found I could reflect on cases and know that although I might not always find the root cause of an unexpected outcome, I would learn a huge amount from it and use that knowledge in the future.
A lot of childbirth is still a mystery and that is part of its wonder.
Totally non-midwifery-related – how do you unwind when you are not being a student midwife?
I actually stopped watching the myriad of midwifery-related programmes which have hit our screens over the last few years as the course was very intensive and I needed a break from it! I found going to the gym or out on my bicycle helped to clear my mind, and yoga was great for keeping flexible to get into awkward birthing positions!
Reading non-midwifery-related books when I could was a great mental holiday and making the effort to see friends outside of midwifery was really important. I needed to remember that there was a world out there, still spinning, and my friends and family kept me going. I am so grateful to them for their support.
And finally, if you were to give a few words of advice to new student midwives what would that be?
Keep an open mind as to what the course will bring. Face challenges with enthusiasm and courage. And absolutely key: be organised. A lot of priorities will pull you in different directions at once so bring your deadlines forward by a couple of weeks if possible. You never know when sickness, tiredness or an uncooperative printer will strike!
Best of luck and enjoy the incredible journey.
Contributor: Sarah Jevons, Third Year Midwifery Student, Middlesex University
Photo Credit: Sarah Jevons