Shadowing a DoctorMarch 17, 2016
The work of a midwife is often described as privileged; witnessing the joy brought by new life and having the opportunity to support families during such a special time makes for a truly rewarding career.
Couple that with the tremendous scope for professional development and strong career prospects, and it’s no wonder midwifery is such a popular choice. So, if you’ve decided you want to become a midwife, where should you start?
If you haven’t had any experience working in the healthcare industry, you’ll have to enrol in and complete a three-year midwifery programme from a recognised university before you can start practicing. If you’re already a qualified nurse but looking to switch over to midwifery, you will need to complete am 18-month full-time, post-registration shortened course.
Applying to midwifery school
Growing demand for midwives, combined with the relatively flexible working conditions and a higher than average earning potential, has resulted in a massive surge in applications to midwifery schools – with many receiving over 1000 applications for just 30 to 40 seats. Therefore, you will have to work extra hard to put together a great application that will impress the admissions authorities.
The best thing you can do to increase your chances of submitting a successful application is to gain some relevant work experience. You can do this by shadowing midwives, or participating in a medical programme in an underserved country where you can work alongside experienced midwives and give them a helping hand as they attend to their patients. Obtaining work experience demonstrates to admissions authorities that you are genuinely interested in this career path, and have taken the time to explore it further.
In addition to boosting your application, work experience will also increase your awareness of the field and help you solidify your career choices, which is always a good thing.
Education and training
The study hours in most midwifery programmes are split equally between theory and hands-on clinical practice. Classroom theory will cover a variety of topics ranging from anatomy, biological sciences and psychology to applied sociology and professional practice. The practical components of the course take place largely in hospitals and community clinics where you will have direct contact with women in various stages of pregnancy and their families.
After you’ve graduated from the three-year programme, you must register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). The NMC is the governing body for nurses and midwives in the UK. As part of the NMC terms, every three years you will need to demonstrate that you’ve complied with the council’s requirement for continued learning and practice, ensuring that you are up to date with the latest research and advancement in your field.
You also need to give notice to the local supervising authority about your intention to practise. Once you’ve completed all of the formalities, you are eligible to start working as a midwife in any setting.
As a qualified midwife, you’ll find several employment options open to you. The majority of midwifery graduates work in NHS hospitals, birthing centres or private maternity clinics. There is also tremendous scope to work independently, offering support and guidance to pregnant women and their families in their homes. If night shifts aren’t an option for you, you could consider working as a community midwife.
There is also an enormous demand for qualified midwives to work in education or research, which are excellent alternatives if you are more interested in the academic side of midwifery.
Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.