My Non-Midwifery Placements

As a student Midwife, in order to qualify, the Nursing and Midwifery Council set our guidelines and one of which states that we have to complete a placement on a Gynaecology Ward, Gynaecology Theatres and in a Neonatal Unit. I have finally finished all three of my compulsory Non-Midwifery Placements so I thought I would share my thought on each of them.

I started my year with my Gynaecology Ward. It was interesting because of the variety but it's strange how the nurses work. I loved seeing all the different clinics and being a support or chaperone for the women but didn't have too big of a role. My favourite part was the bladder scanners. For some reason I found them fascinating. Funnily, I often heard them saying they were rushed off their feet and all I'd seen them do for the majority of the time was sit at the desk. In my first year, I rarely got a chance to sit down at all.

Moving onto the Theatre Placement. I can understand why it's useful to have this included as part of the programme but I did struggle to see the relevance of a full week. I really appreciated the theatre staff in the cesarean sections. In all my previous sections, I've looked at it from a midwifery perspective and therefore haven't really taken note of how many staff bodies go into making it run. It was interesting taking a step back to observe this. Other operations were relatively straight forward and involved the majority of the same equipment. I ended up following the Operation Department Practitioner which gave me an insight into the whole patient process as we picked the patient up from the waiting room, brought them to the anaesthetics room, put them to sleep and then helped with changing bed positions etc. during theatre. I had a few conversations with the different anaesthetists which was interesting and they were very attentive and helpful in answering questions. By the end of the placement, I was told I was very proactive and helpful. I try to get stuck in with everything I do and I like to be able to have a job so I ended up being able to work the legs of the bed and place the blanket warmers on the patients. My mentor told me that a lot of ODP student's just observe for the first few weeks so she was very happy that I got involved straight away.

Finally, my Neonatal Placement and my favourite. I've literally just finished this placement and I honestly really enjoyed it. It's very different to Midwifery despite caring for newborns which is part of the role of a midwife. I was placed in a very small neonatal unit rather than the big neonatal intesive care units so I can defintely understand how the experience can vary. I was somewhat dreading it before I began because I'd heard horror stories from other people but I thought it was an amazing experience. I really loved the continuity because a lot of the babies are in long term and as such, you recognise them and get to really know the parents and families. I loved being able to talk to them about their journey's, the birth and their emotions. I also loved giving breast feeding support so found this aspect of the job very rewarding, plus the skills are very transferable to midwifery. In terms of the care of the babies, it is quite repetitive and therefore the job as a whole is relatively relaxed with not much to do. 6 hourly cares and 1-2 hourly feeds is about the extent so it can be very tedious and I did find myself getting rather bored. I think you defintely have to take your own learning opportunities, for example, I was very keen do some newborn and infant physical examinations (NIPE) for my qualification and I managed to do 3 on the unit. I also took all the opportunities I had to learn. I participated in a tutorial with the nurses, I observed a clinical simulation and I also went to a 33 week cesarean to see it from the perspective of the neonatal team, so I actually got very lucky and had quite a varied experience during my two weeks.

Having now done all three placements, I defintely feel that midwifery is the most stressful, most demanding and the hardest career. However, it's always different, you never know what to expect and it keeps you interested at all times. Perhaps, I didn't see the full extent of each of the nurses roles in the placement areas and they do more than I observed, but perhaps not.