Midwifery Year Two: Exams

Following on from my year two review, I am sharing my experience of the exams and assessments. I did a similar post for my first year midwifery exams and I think for my second year, as I had already experienced the process, I was somewhat used to them.

The University of Nottingham offers a cycling curriculum, meaning that they revisit the same assessment and similar themes of topics each year, at the same time. As a result, students get used to the types of assessments, and usually more comfortable, if not better at them. Similarly, the module content is built upon, for example, Normal Childbirth moves to Complex Childbirth.
How to deal with exam stress | Times Higher Education (THE)
This year I didn't have to be the team captain for the debate and it made me so much happier! There was a lot less stress as I only had to speak once and I wasn't last which was better. Once again, I got a tricky topic to  ague against with "Women who give birth prematurely should be told that their babies need to be given breast milk to achieve an optimal outcome". I concentrated on the biological side of it and I actually found it really quite interesting because although the research was slightly more dated, there were some problems with it. I also learnt the piece off by heart. Despite, having the script and reading off it in parts, I did really try to get comfortable with the content which helped a lot.

The first module was Perinatal Mental Health. It was defintely an important module to include in the curriculum and with an option to write an essay on one of three topics, I chose the least popular and apparently more popular...but for me, it was the most interesting on stillbirth. I was really quite disappointed with the feedback from the essay and it is the lowest grade I've ever received sadly. I think it was quite difficult to have feedback from one person marking and the tutorial from another. Usually the marker is the person doing the tutorial, but unfortunately there was a last minute change. As a result, the feedback didn't reflect what was taught in the tutorial which I didn't particularly agree with and I felt it was quite harsh. I had a meeting to discuss the outcome and I did end up getting some clear guidance and feedback, with lots of ways to improve in the future so fingers crossed.

The second module and essay was our research module. It was a little boring of topic to be taught, especially because I have quite a bit of experience with the basics so it was quite repetitive for me to begin with. However, I had never used the CASP tools to analyse a paper before which is what the essay was in. It was quite a difficult essay to get excited about because it was such a different type of paper. It was very descriptive and with such a clear structure and guidance, it didn't leave much freedom for exploration. Nevertheless, it meant that it was quite an easy essay to structure and didn't use too much brain power to understand and put in order.

Another year, another OSCE. As I shared last year with my first year midwifery OSCE, my usual experience OSCE is still very different. I don't think I will ever be too worried about the midwifery OSCEs, even with the year three OSCE being summative and contributing to 20% of the practical module. Our second year OSCE was on Obstetric Emergencies. There was one of four options: breech, shoulder dystocia, cord prolapse and post-partum haemorrhage. I ended up being very VERY late for mine; I had told them in advance but my caseholding appointment ended up being twice as long and as I result, I was half an hour later than expected. Luckily, staff were still waiting for me and they were happy to go ahead. I love the staff, they are all so nice and accessible! In the past, cohorts have all received the same station, however this year, students selected a card with one of the four on instead. I luckily got what I deemed the easiest, with cord prolapse and got all the marking points, way under the time limit and so it only ended up being a couple of minutes long.

My last ever official exam was on Complex Childbirth. Honestly, I wasn't a fan of the assessment. Following on from a change to our cohorts planner, we ended up having to switch a couple of placement and theory blocks. As a result, they changed the exam slightly so that it was a fully seen examination. There were 3 questions, all of which needed answering and reference lists. This meant that most people ultimately only focused on the content that was needed, pre-wrote the questions and then memorised the answers. Personally, I feel that this is a poor assessment method, as did many others, but it did mean most people got marks they were happy with.

For my practical assessment, due to my placement area having a continuum of practice between labour suite and the ward, my main mentor was the only one I worked with on a constant level. As such, I only worked with another midwife on a few occasions and there was only one other sign off mentor that I worked with, which was for just 3 weeks of a few shift. As a result, I feel that I was unfairly marked in one of my two tripartite with comments along the lines of, if I was to work with Hannah for longer, and she continued to practice as the same level, she would have had a higher mark. Nevertheless, the women's feedback I received was amazing and I had a great relationship with my main mentor.

Once again I ended up with great marks and a first overall. I was really pleased with most of them, but as mentioned, a little upset with a couple.
  1. Debate - 81%
  2. Perinatal Mental Health (Essay) - 60% 
  3. Research Principles (Essay) - 80%
  4. Complex Childbirth (Exam) - 77%
  5. OSCE - 100%
  6. Practical - 77%