3 January 2018
Our midwifery lecturer Sara Smith shares her career path to midwifery and discusses what makes her job so special.
I started working as a maternity care assistant in a standalone midwife-led unit to gain experience and learn how to care for women and babies. Two years later I was seconded by the Trust to complete my midwifery degree at Anglia Ruskin University and have never looked back.
After working in offices early in my career I left work and started a family. This was the turning point in my life where I discovered midwifery. I had the most amazing community midwife and I aspired to be able to provide women with the same high level of care that I had received and to make a difference to their experiences in becoming mothers.
After completing my year of preceptorship as a newly qualified midwife I rotated throughout all areas of the maternity service. I worked predominantly on the postnatal ward where I enjoyed caring for women and babies who needed to stay in hospital after birth and in the community as part of a team at a standalone midwifery-led unit. There, I held a caseload of women and was able to provide them with antenatal care as my midwife had done for me. I found that I really enjoyed providing antenatal education classes for women and through this developed a love for teaching.
After I had been qualified for three years, I took up an acting Practice Development role where I was responsible for the provision of the training of all maternity staff and from there was able to secure my current role teaching student midwives.
In my current role I spend much of my time teaching the student midwives in class, either lecturing on midwifery topics such as diabetes in pregnancy or teaching clinical skills such as taking basic observations, taking blood and suturing, to name but a few. The students are assessed in some way at the end of each module and I mark some of the essays that the students write and assess the practical (OSCE) exams that they undertake during the course.
I also link into clinical practice at one of the local hospital trusts. There I meet with the students and their mentors to make sure that they are happy in placement and meeting their targets. When necessary, I provide support for students who need extra help or have issues outside of work that are making things more difficult for them.
Excellent care provision is so important and I always keep this at the heart of my teaching. I believe that by teaching midwifery students I am still able to have a positive effect on the experiences of women accessing maternity services by making sure that I am a role model for good practice in class.
I am very lucky that the job that I do still enables me to be able to work clinically on my days off. I love working as a midwife on the wards and being able to care for women and their families and this also gives me the chance to work with some of the students in practice too. I often work on the postnatal ward where I am able to support women with breastfeeding and baby care. The mums and babies on the ward are often not able to be discharged home for medical reasons and by providing the care, support and encouragement to them in this time I am able to help them have a better experience.
When I undertake shifts at the standalone midwife-led unit where I first started to work in maternity care, I am able to provide antenatal education to women and their partners. I still enjoy this greatly as I feel ensuring that they have the best possible information means that they can make the best choices for them when their baby is born and afterwards.
I believe that it is the greatest privilege to be able to care for a woman and her family through such a special time in their lives and I am so proud to be able to say that I can help to make a difference.