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Welcome to class: A survival guide for commencing student midwives

02 October 2015
5 min read
Volume 23 · Issue 10

Abstract

October is a very busy month in the university calendar as, along with 104 other higher education institutions (HEIs) delivering approved midwifery courses (Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2015a), we welcome our new cohort of students as they begin their journey to becoming a midwife and having the privilege of being ‘with woman’. This article aims to provide commencing student midwives with some tips and information to help navigate the early stages of their course and ease the transition into a professional programme of study. Information is provided from the author's perspective as a senior lecturer with experience in teaching and supporting first-year students, combined with the reflections of three students who have recently completed the first year of their programme of study. The students share their thoughts on how they felt at the start of their programme and give suggestions for how to cope with its academic and clinical demands.

Congratulations! Out of the thousands of applicants, you were successful and are now at the start of your training. This is where the really hard work starts as you learn to juggle your home life with the considerable demands of the course in terms of theoretical input and clinical practice, not to mention assessments and irregular working patterns.

Carolan and Kruger (2011) undertook a study asking first-year midwifery students the question: ‘What, if anything, would make your experience as a first-year student better?’ Findings included students identifying a need for greater opportunity to prepare, both before the start of the course and prior to lectures. The majority of students also felt they needed greater opportunities to study because theoretical input was intensive, leaving little time to consolidate learning outside of the classroom. Finally, students almost unanimously identified a need for greater support: pastoral support when they felt overwhelmed with the workload, and peer support for reassurance that they were not alone in how they were feeling.

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