So, the government gave us all a glimmer of hope, with the news that 3,000 more training places for midwifery will be created over the next 4 years.
This cannot come too soon.
We are feeling the strain on the ‘shop floor’ and this news is very welcome. We know that the Royal College of Midwives estimates that we are currently 3,500 midwives short in England, so although this is a small step, it is an important one in the realisation of the need for more midwives, so thank you Government for noticing that “more midwives = a better outcome.”
We know we need more midwives! But this is only one small part of the puzzle.
Let’s look at some of the other issues that need to be looked at too……
1. Making it affordable for students to choose midwifery.
Increasing the information provided about how midwifery students will fund the course is essential and although I could go on about, ‘bring back the bursary’, that is unlikely to happen. So we need to know, in plain English, how much it will cost to become a Midwife.
2. The Application
It would seem that so many universities have become focused on the academic element of applying to be a midwife. If it was like that when I applied, I would have struggled to even get an interview. I would like to see the universities choosing the students that are passionate about midwifery, that have all the skills but may not necessarily be the greatest academics.
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3. Excellent Mentoring
To become a good midwife, you need a good mentor. Role modelling on how to create the safest, evidence-based experience for women is part of the journey in finding out what kind of midwife you want to be. The creation of more places is (on paper) fantastic, but in reality we already struggle with mentoring the number of students we have, 25% more may mean a different experience, so this needs to be looked at.
4. A job at the end of it all
I can’t imagine getting to the end of my 3 year training and then not being offered a job. This is too often the case.
Newly qualified midwives are going through rigorous interview processes at the end of the their training and sometimes just not getting enough ‘points’ in the interview process to be offered a job. I’d like to think that if a student midwife is training for 3 years, that is a 3-year long interview and therefore more weight should be given for knowing the student rather then a point scoring system.
5. Staying Power
More time and effort should be put into keeping midwives in their chosen career. Although many qualify, too many leave the profession, so I would like more research in how to make a happy, resilient workforce that want a long career in midwifery.
So overall, thank you Government for taking note of the need for more midwives, but in order for this to make a difference we need to look at the whole picture… and then I will be very happy!
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