Midwifery Year Three: Exams

Following on from my year three review, I'm continuing with the assessments side of things. As I'm writing this, I couldn't be happier with my assessment results this year, especially given everything that has happened and switched up the course. Of course, this year has been a little different and the assessment side of things also had to be altered slightly, but luckily, that meant no official exams for us, and instead they were all assessments. 
Our first module was run normally. The Politics of Maternity Care had two separate assessments, the same as for every first module of the year in our midwifery studies. The first was a debate and the second an essay, however unlike previous years, this year, each contributed 50% to the total mark towards the module, therefore they were of equal proportion to our grade. 

My topic for this year was another tricky one with: "FOR - All women should be offered a caesarean section". I took the approach of the biological side of things which I again found came somewhat naturally to me. I discussed the benefits of caesarean sections on vaginal prolapse and urinary incontinence. I always seem to get the side of the argument that I disagree with, but that makes it somewhat easier for making it an academic style of writing. I felt I did really well, especially compared to other's in the cohort and was really impressed with my rebuttal comment, but I completely agreed with my feedback in that I needed to "grow in confidence to develop debate style" as I largely read from my prompt sheet. Even though I memorised it, I still rely on it when it's in front of me and it really is a terrible habit! 

The essay questions were all fairly similar and required the same content to be included so I went for the simplest question. I found the question relatively easy to answer as it was more of a story through history, but I struggled to fit it all in, within the word count. Plus, most people agreed that they felt they were telling a story rather than critically analysing which is what we are mainly marked upon. I found the easiest way was to write it as a "story" somewhat first. Then to go back through critically analysing each part in detail, then condense each paragraph on a read through.

For The Research Evidence for High Quality Midwifery Practice I found I actually felt quite lucky that this module was taught online, because it gave us more time for self-directed study which is ultimately required for this assessment of a research proposal. The module was launched at the end of the previous module so we had a few week's prior to beginning to consider the topic and I ended up doing it on something close to home: women's decision making on birth after caesarean section. 

I found that most of the sections came to me relatively easy. I first of all did my literature search following the explanation given by the lecturers. I then wrote up this section as a rough summary because I found it the most difficult to understand. Once the literature review was summarised, I was able to do all the other sections. The introduction was a quick section to write, as it had my passion behind it, and due to the topic I chose, I could easily write about history, statistics and guidelines. Similarly, the methodology and dissemination section were really easy for me, but that may mainly be because of my previous experience. For these, I wrote what I wanted to say and then I found the evidence to back it up afterwards. I think it's important to remember for the dissemination section, that each of the sections don't need to be equally divided in terms of word count. This section was by far my smallest and that's all that was required, especially if you utilise diagrams and charts. Then I revisited the literature search afterwards because I was already in the flow of writing and had a grasp and understanding of where it was going. 

I was pleased with my mark overall, but I wasn't didn't agree with my markers comments. Everyone that was marked by this marker felt she was harsh and I strongly thought the marks should have been adjusted at the moderation, however they weren't. My marker was the only one who wasn't a trained midwife and compared to others, she picked up on every comment regarding a midwifery term that wasn't fully explained. Whilst I understood this, I appeared to get marked down, whereas other's didn't as she didn't understand the context. It was also commented that I didn't use specialised texts when I used more than others by far. But the mark that got to me the most was that I got the lowest score for referencing, because she didn't agree with my style, despite it being used throughout my entire degree and gaining full marks the whole way through prior. I did take this to discussion but I found her to be quite unhelpful and overall defensive so didn't see a way forward. 

The final theoretical module was for The Professional Midwife in Contemporary Society. Unlike previous assessments, this was an entirely new way of assessing, as it was a Portfolio on PebblePad. It was also on a brand new topic. Usually, it is done on elective experience but this time, due to it being cancelled, it was transferred to caseholding. Luckily, I did caseholding in full and had a great experience but some only did it first year and not in full so it was difficult. 

As I discussed in my review post, I didn't think this module was taught very well and everyone seemed to give us contradictory advice which sadly confused the cohort. I ended up exploring the topics in my own way and luckily, it seemed to work and I got a really great grade. I took each part as a separate question and made sure to fully include all the theoretical content. I had some comments about flow in the feedback, which I completely agreed with, because I fit the information in to make sure it was covered without fully being cohesive. I actually really enjoyed writing this one though, because it also included a section on future midwifery careers and I was able to write about this passionately, and then transfer it to my personal statement going forward. 

Finally, our practice module, The Competent Student Midwife in Practice, was actually split into 3 assessments this year, with one being a new addition for our cohort, with the Neonatal Resuscitation OSCE that I have already spoken about separately. The OSCE became a summative assessment in third year, contributing to the grade. 

There was then the usual two practice assessments, however this year they were completed in a slightly different way due to the new Nursing and Midwifery Council Standards, now using Practice Supervisors and Practice Assessors separately to avoid personal bias. I actually don't think I've ever fully explained what happened previously but it used to be assessed by the single mentor you worked with. Now you work with multiple Practice Supervisors who write comments for you based on the 6Cs and then a Practice Assessor who has never worked with you, summarises the comments and gives you a mark. Whilst I can see the hope of this, comments can still show preferential treatment to those who are friends. Having said that, I actually prefer this method. It takes the student out of the assessments as a middle man, meaning we don't have to arrange a date and time between 3 people, which can be difficult, but also saves us time in organising it ourselves. It also means the student can somewhat predict the comments prior as you can see what the comments are saying. I think my mark genuinely reflected the comments so I was really pleased. 

As a note, for this module we also have to do a portfolio of evidence. Whilst at the moment, these do not go towards the grade, they are looked at to reflect understanding. For this, we have to record 3 breastfeeding observations, 2 interprofessional learning reflections, 1 antenatal reflection, 1 postnatal reflection, 2 intrapartum reflections and 4 women's feedbacks. As all of these are written in an academic style, with referencing etc, I do think they should form part of the assessment in some way going forward. 

Despite the disappointing comments from one of the assessments, I am beyond pleased with my marks for this year, which you can see below! 

  1. The Politics of Maternity Care - Debate: 79%
  2. The Politics of Maternity Care - Essay: 84%
  3. The Research Evidence for High Quality Midwifery Practice - Research Proposal: 70%
  4. The Professional Midwife in Contemporary Society - Portfolio: 88%
  5. The Competent Student Midwife in Practice - Labour Suite: 92%
  6. The Competent Student Midwife in Practice - Antenatal/Postnatal: 86% 
  7. The Competent Student Midwife in Practice - OSCE: 100%