My First Month as a Community Midwife!

I have officially been in the community one month, well technically 5 weeks at the time of writing this, but I had a week's annual leave in the middle. Just like I did with my labour suite rotation, I really wanted to share my first impressions and thoughts of the rotation. Having said that, community works a little differently, in that you have 4 weeks supernumerary and with that, it truly is supernumerary. At the moment, I place on doing another additional thoughts review in a month's time. 

It's been such a long time since I was last in community. Due to Covid, I never got a third year community placement, and in second year it was at the very beginning so realistically it's been well over 2 years since I even thought about the service involved. I've actually really appreciated the supernumerary time. Plus, I loved the fact that I didn't get my equipment until the end of my supernumerary period (albeit I collected mine a week earlier for ease), because this meant you couldn't actually do clinical aspects alone. I have done a couple of booking appointments (first referral into midwifery services) alone, but always with someone to ask for support and guidance if needed. Otherwise, I've always had someone else in the room or even leading the clinic. I was asked a couple of times whether I wanted to do a couple of visits alone, but I did say no because I really wanted to take the time to experience other midwifery and learn. 

The biggest shock to the system so far has been the working time. Everyone says that shift work is tiring, but I've actually found the 9-5 life far more exhausting. Of course, not going from days to nights to days, has been wonderful. It's really made a massive difference to my sleep cycle and health. However, I've always loved the fact I can be a "lady of leisure" for lack of a better word, with days off mid-week. Since Covid, I really do hate crowds, more so than I ever did before, so I try to avoid it where possible. Going for lunch, shopping, post office trips or even cleaning(!) is just so much easier when you've had an entire day off. After work, I just want to sit down and relax. Not have to work more. It isn't helped by the fact it often finishes late and starts early. There's been a few occasions where I really have NEEDED to stay late to finish the work, and then other times where I've felt incredibly guilty before leaving before the rest of the team. 

On that note, it really does feel like part of a team. In the hospital it felt like you could often go to someone - depending on who was on - but in community it's different. Even in the short time I've been there, it's lovely to be able to rely on others. I've asked for advice, and had interesting discussions with nearly every team member, just discussing cases and situations. Similarly, asking for others to chase results or sort little odd jobs is the norm, rather than the oddity. 

I've also come to love the system. We use a programme that allows instant messaging between all the community midwives which is lovely, so there's always someone on hand if you have a quick question or query. Plus, despite my caseload GP not being able to task, you can request a lot of prescriptions through it as well, which is really nice! Conversely, we have recently transitioned to another system. It works great in the hospital but it's just too slow in community and there are so many pages, which take anywhere from 1 minute to 5 minutes to load each; it takes a painstaking amount of time to do anything. 

Not dissimilar to caseholding, it's already been lovely to get to know my caseload. I feel so invested in some of them already and I've been following up on a lot of little things to stay updated on them all. I currently have a relatively small number as my predecessor appeared to be based at two different locations. It is growing fast though, so I am sure it will be up to regular figures soon enough. In comparison to my teammates it's rather low, but at the same time, they also have a lot of postnatal women that need discharging and therefore it's skewing the numbers a little bit. 

Finally, my equipment! Like I said I picked it up a week earlier but didn't go through it all until a few days later. It actually made it really excited and all real all of a sudden. It sounds strange to say that it made me feel like a proper midwife given that I was in the hospital with nothing for 5 months, but it really did. I loved buying little wash bags and I've colour coded to organise everything: pink = blood, blue = respiratory, yellow = wee etc. I also organised a little folder with all of the leaflets and blood forms possible, to help me be organised and stay on top of it as well. I'm not sure what other's do, but I personally have found myself running around trying to find things over the past month, so I didn't want to be in that position whilst I was alone. Plus, trying to be the best I can be, I've tried to get additional resources that can help my women, such as Beyond Bea and GBSS stickers and leaflets. I've also organised my clinic room. Sadly, due to room availability, I have MY room on a Tuesday and then I have a half clinic in a random room on a Wednesday. My Tuesday room now looks lovely though and I can't wait to get in there.

Overall, I'm excited to be running my own clinics, a little nervous about having to answer the unexpected and eager to get out there. Wish me luck!