Samantha Emery is a Rotational Midwife. Alongside this role, she is completing her Masters in Clinical Research here at The University of Manchester and works part time as a Research Midwife. In this piece, she gives an honest, heartfelt and extremely helpful insight into what it’s like studying and working as a midwife…
I started my undergraduate Midwifery degree at The University of Manchester in 2013. I chose to study Midwifery as I wanted to complete a degree that would increase my employability and lead to a professional role.
At first, Midwifery appealed to me because I knew I would be helping women during the most exciting, yet daunting, time of their lives. Now-a-days I enjoy caring for higher risk women and helping to ensure that their experience is as ‘normal’ and as female-centric as possible.
The degree was one of the most rewarding, yet difficult, things I’ve ever done. The mix of placement and lecture-based weeks worked well for me and I gained vast experience learning within two different trusts. The work-life balance was the biggest challenge, but a totally worthwhile one! As a midwife, I have worked on both postnatal and antenatal wards, as well as the the birth centre and delivery suites. I have recently chosen to work on the delivery suite and postnatal ward, as I believe these are the areas where I provide the best care.
Being a midwife is more challenging than I initially thought – the sense of responsibility can sometimes be overwhelming. However, seeing a woman become a mother and a man a father is the best experience. Midwifery has also taught me more about working in a team and the value of yourself as an individual within a team; junior and senior midwives, obstetricians, doctors, healthcare assistants and theatre teams all work well together to provide the best possible care.
A year into my role as a midwife, a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) scholarship opportunity was advertised in the Trust. This was a part-time funded Master’s in clinical research at The University of Manchester. Although I was very junior at the time, I always knew I wanted to do further study and this was the perfect opportunity. The application was rigorous and involved presenting a research proposal to a panel of five senior lecturers at the University but thankfully, I was successful.
The course itself involves weekly online modules about different elements of research, as well as completing a research project as part of the dissertation. I have developed many skills during the course – namely time management and communication – but I have also gained a greater understanding of how research works in a clinical setting; what different types of research there are, what makes for rigorous research and even things like how to complete ethics applications. The skills and knowledge I have gained from this course gave me the confidence to apply for a research secondment, which I started in September this year.
The role of a research midwife is to identify and recruit participants to studies and to collect data for these studies; this also involves managing multiple projects at the same time, liaising with senior clinicians about projects, promoting research within the Trust and attending meetings about upcoming and exciting projects. The role is a challenge as I am the only research midwife in the hospital where I work. However, it’s a great opportunity to engage with other midwifes and members of the midwifery team. I hope to continue to learn more about research in the clinical setting and embark on further research projects at the hospital in the future.
In terms of where I hope to go from here, my main aim is to complete my master’s project to a high standard and continue to consolidate and enhance my clinical skills as a midwife before taking on other projects. Long term, I hope to split my career between research and clinical midwifery, as well as look into PhD projects too.
My advice for current or prospective students would be, one, to ask questions: there are many experienced midwives, obstetricians and lecturers around you with a wealth of knowledge – they are keen to share this knowledge and this is the best way for you to develop as a midwife. Secondly, always be looking to learn, even before and after your degree; read around things that interest you and discuss it with your peers. Next: DON’T PANIC! I remember being so upset after witnessing my first emergency; talk to your mentors and supervisors, they understand your struggles upsetting and are there to support you.
Last but by no means least, make sure you rest: it is so important to remember to look after yourself; too many healthcare professionals suffer from burnout so remember to take some time out to do the other things that you enjoy.
Oh, and one last thing: if you see something that excites you and you are passionate about, no matter what obstacles are along the way, you have nothing to lose, so just go for it!