Since degree level education became mandatory for NMC registration, debate has continued about the best way to train nurses and midwives, many fearing giving care would become secondary to writing about it, explains student NT editor, Holly Morse.
Ensuring that it doesn’t rests on the mentorship provided by those in practice, providing opportunities for a student to learn, reflect and develop whilst simultaneously managing an increasing workload in an understaffed, under-resourced service.
Recently, at a student conference, I met Dr. Chris Jones, Chair of the recently created body known as Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW).
HEIW will be responsible for commissioning, planning and developing education and training for the NHS workforce in Wales and as such will be central to the experience of the next generation of students and mentors.
“Those who embrace the mentorship role and do it well make a lifelong difference to a future midwife”
During the conference Dr Jones said something I have found myself coming back to time and time again, reflecting on my experiences of being a student midwife, of having mentors, being mentored and the care I have seen.
Being a good mentor is to enter wholeheartedly into a very special relationship, one that involves sharing in a challenging process of reflection, signposting and feedback – something not everyone is happy or ready to take on.
Midwifery training requires not only academic and clinical skill and reflection but, by the nature of a role caring indiscriminately for all women, some introspection. One mentor referred to this as “being taken apart as a person and put back together as a midwife…” and that is exactly how it feels!
Holding this mirror, reflecting in it, not just as mentor or mentee, but as an individual with a personality and a life lived, is often as uncomfortable as it is ultimately rewarding.
Those who embrace the mentorship role and do it well make as much of a lifelong difference to a future midwife as they do to the women they care for, perhaps never realising how much so.
“My mentor has done more than support me to improve clinically – she has shown me the relationship that makes the difference and shaped the midwife I want to be.”
I will miss the mentorship I have had the privilege of receiving this placement. At times the introspection it prompted left me feeling exposed…but I learnt that being vulnerable can be powerful.
I realised that confidence is a complex dance between what is inside and out – and that both are valuable. I’m leaving with improved clinical skills and midwifery knowledge…but just as importantly I have seen what quality, evidence-based care looks and feels like when it is an authentic part of a midwife-mother relationship, built through continuity and trust.
The literature (*Walsh, 1999) refers to this as midwife as ‘professional friend’ and acknowledges how much it is valued by women – and that it improves birth outcomes for mother and baby.
My mentor has done more than support me to improve clinically – she has shown me the relationship that makes the difference and shaped the midwife I want to be.
What was it Dr. Jones said? “Only where there is good care will you find good teaching.”
So, Annmarie - you nailed it. Thank you.
*Walsh, D. (1999). An ethnographic study of women’s experience of partnership caseload midwifery practice: the professional as a friend. Midwifery.15(3):165-76.