Become A Student Midwife
So you’re thinking about becoming a midwife? Well there’s a few things you need to consider first…
Why do you want to be a midwife? And don’t say that you love babies or One Born Every Minute! You need to be able to picture yourself being an advocate for women, no matter what their background or personality. To be a midwife you need to be free from prejudice as well as being able to make decisions quickly and having determination. Imagine you are a woman in labour, what would you want? What would matter to you? What kind of things would make you think “wow, my midwife really went above and beyond for me”?
Whilst all midwives are different and they all work in different ways, there are many traits that midwives share: passion, dedication, quick thinking abilities, open mindedness, punctuality, determination, reliability, kindness, empathy, compassion and resilience.
Can you afford to?
Whilst you may be eligible for a grant or student loan, this may not cover all of your expenses, especially if you have a family or are planning to live in university accommodation. There are travel expenses, books to buy, placement shoes, warm coats for when you’re in the community, lunch when out and about, and that coffee you really needed at 6.30am when you’re standing in the cold waiting for your train before you start a 12.5 hour shift.
Can you handle working long hours?
As we all know, babies are born when they want to be born; they call the shots. Most shifts within midwifery are twelve and a half hours, and if you’re lucky you’ll get out on time. In terms of course structure as a student, whilst a lot of universities structure their course in blocks (i.e. you spend 6 weeks in university, followed by 6 weeks in placement) there are still a few universities that don’t.
Be prepared to commute
You may live quite close to the universities but remember that just because the university is near you, your placement may not be. The same goes if you have a hospital right next door to you; it does not mean you will be placed there as everyone in the course needs to be taken into consideration and most universities will have a cap on how far is reasonable for you to travel (usually 1-1.5 hours each way). You may have to travel further than you think. If you do live a substantial amount of time away from a university, think of your options. Could you live in university accommodation or move closer to the university?
Do you have the grades for university or evidence of recent study?
As midwifery is becoming more popular (thanks to lots of television programmes and more media coverage), universities can be quite selective about who they accept. Year on year entry requirements change, and are usually increased. It’s worth looking at league tables and looking at possible universities for you and seeing what they require.
All midwifery courses require evidence of study within the last 5 years (some require study within the last 3 years). If you’ve been working in a job for a long time and haven’t studied recently, an access to university course may be a good option for you. An access course is also good for prospective students who are above sixth form age but do not have any A levels or level 3 BTECs, or for anyone who doesn’t quite reach the entry requirements. Access courses are held in many colleges around the country and provide relevant teaching on becoming a midwife.
Whether you’re entering straight from school, or study an access course, it would be wise to have some kind of work experience in health care. This doesn’t necessarily have to be within maternity services, but any kind of health care role will be beneficial and will no doubt give you transferable skills.
The application process
First you need a personal statement. In this you should include why you want to be a midwife, what relevant study or experience you have which will benefit you (even a retail job gives you skills that are transferable – think time keeping, communication skills, the importance of keeping a clean working environment). Really try to sell yourself in your statement even if it feels like you’re blowing your own trumpet! Once you send your statement to your chosen University, the dreaded wait begins. Try not to get too disheartened if you don’t hear anything straight away, many universities wait until the deadline before replying to anyone to give everyone a fair chance. When you do get a response, don’t be surprised if you’re invited to take examinations to demonstrate your literacy and numeracy skills. These examinations aren’t to catch you out, but all midwives will use mathematical calculations in the work place and need to have a good command of the English language.
Some universities will send you home after your tests so they can be marked and will contact you regarding an interview at a later date. These interviews can be scary but there are some amazing resources out there to help you prepare yourself, such as documents you can download from SMNET. Don’t be afraid to talk about your personal achievements and again really sell yourself if a question relating to them arises, but be mindful of staying on topic of what is asked of you. The questions can vary from the standard “Why do you want to be a midwife?” to “If you could be an animal what would it be and why?” or “What has recently been in the headlines for midwifery practice?” Really show these interviewers that you’re a great investment, and that you’re the one that they want!
There are some fabulous resources out there for people thinking of applying to midwifery. SMNET offers great resources you can download to help you prepare for interviews and examinations and to help you really understand the role of a midwife. They also have a forum with thousands of student midwives commenting on all kinds of matters so be sure to check them out and take part in the discussions! SMNET also provide a service where they can look at personal statements or conduct mock interviews with you online to build your confidence and to get you talking like a pro ready for those interviews!
Here at MAMA Academy we have lots to offer you too – you can sign up to our newsletters to keep up to date with current guidelines and news stories, as well as looking on our website to gain insight into what it’s like for women going through the pregnancy and birth experience. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what we are currently talking about!