June 10, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
So you think you want to be a midwife. Working as a midwife can be an exciting and rewarding career. Midwives care for women during pregnancy and beyond. They may evaluate fertility problems, provide prenatal care and care for a woman during childbirth. Even if you think you have a pretty good idea of what a midwife does, some things may surprise you. One of the best ways you can be sure a career as a midwife is the right fit is to shadow one. Shadowing involves following and observing a midwife while he or she is at work. There is only so much information you can get from books and by talking to someone in the field. When you see the daily responsibilities of a midwife, you can get a feel for what the job is really like.
Childbirth does not always go perfectly. Emergency situations can develop. There are instances where a midwife needs to step in and provide emergency intervention. As you shadow a midwife, you may have the chance to witness emergencies and see how a midwife reacts. Consider how you feel about dealing with stressful situations.
If you have never witnessed childbirth, it is not always neat and tidy. A Shadowing experience will expose you to what assisting in childbirth involves. It will help you figure out if you are too squeamish for this type of work.
Shadowing before committing to a midwife program also provides you with an opportunity to ask questions. A midwife can answer questions regarding salary, opportunities and what the pros and cons of the job are.
Various factors affect what you may be able to do during your shadowing experience. For example, some midwives may allow you to sit in on prenatal care visits or classes they teach, such as baby care. But you may not be allowed to attend deliveries. In other instances, the midwife you are shadowing may allow you to follow her throughout her entire day whether she is caring for a patient in her office or attending a home birth.
Keep in mind, even if the midwife you are shadowing allows you to follow her, you also have to make sure the patients agree to have you observe. Patients have a right to privacy and may or may not allow a student to hang around. If a patient is not comfortable with having an observer in the room, make a quite exit and respect the patient’s choice.
You may be able to locate a midwife to shadow on your own by calling local birthing centers and hospitals. There are also shadowing programs, which will arrange the experience for you. If possible, consider shadowing more than one midwife. It can be helpful to get a few different perspectives on what it is like to work in the field.
When you have the opportunity to shadow a midwife. Make the most of the experience. Ask questions and observe as much as possible. Be professional at all times, and always adhere to patient privacy laws.