We're mid-July and that means 2 things: 1) I'm getting excited at the prospect of the Great British Bake Off starting again and 2) my inbox is filling up with enquiries about midwifery applications.
Midwives-to-be are a passionate group and even though UCAS doesn't open until September, many are already strategising. Today's post is about a complex decision: how to choose a Uni as a student midwife.
As the standard of midwifery university courses in the UK is uniformly high, choosing where to study midwifery can be a strangely ambivalent experience.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council ensures that every Uni turns out highly qualified midwives. You'll be getting both degree level education and registration if you complete the course. With few exceptions, the course will be 3 years and feature at least 50% practical training.
On the face of it, this means there are no 'bad' choices that can be made.
However, it's still a big decision.
The relationships and ties to the area you make are going to be lifelong, or at least they have been for every student or qualified midwife I've ever known. Not to say you won't move away after you've qualified but midwifery training changes you as a person.
When you apply to your chosen Unis, out of the 125 midwifery courses in the UK, your other options are snuffed out like they never existed...
However, if you can't choose because you have ties to the area, kids or family to look after, respect to you for following your dream of becoming a midwife regardless. You can be confident you're making a good choice wherever you study in the UK.
Factors To Think About
You can choose up to 5 Unis to apply for via UCAS. Your qualifications, grades or predicted grades will be a big part of where you can apply to.
You can use the site Which University? to find the grades you need or look at specific Uni websites.
The Type Of Midwife You Want To Be:
It's often too early for midwifery candidates to work this out in detail but you might have some leanings towards midwife-led physiological birth or multidisciplinary team complex care.
Big metropolitan cities offer excellent training for more complex care whereas smaller towns may offer more midwife-led units (you’ll need to check on this for each city of course).
If you’re interested in continuity of care models, meaning one midwife following one woman throughout care, you might want to look into the ‘One To One’ midwives organisation. They often do student placements. Continuity of care has been identified as a safe and satisfying style of care for ages and the recent National Maternity Review was all for it. ‘One To One’ currently work in Essex, Cheshire, Liverpool, Warrington and Wirral.
While the home birth rate in the UK isn't high (around 2.5%), if this is care you're interested in, you may want to look at where you'll get the most experience. Wales, the South West, South East and East are regions where the rate is higher, somewhere between 3-3.5% whereas Scotland and Ireland have not so many women choosing this option.
You may also want to look into local research at the trusts or Unis you're applying for if this is something you're interested in for your career.
Check the way placements are set out. Some Unis do 'block' placements where you'll work alongside the team for 4-8 weeks or sometimes a bit longer, before heading back to Uni for a stretch of theory. Others do mixed weeks where you're on placement for a few days and then back at Uni for a few.
Childcare or just your own learning style might help you choose.
Transport is also a consideration. Every midwifery course will mean you do day-shifts, night-shifts, 12-hour-shifts and possibly on call. Will you be using public transport or driving? The You of the future will appreciate a short commute.
As an aside, I trained in Leicester and managed perfectly on my bike and with a few odd train rides thrown in to get to St Marys Birth Centre out in Melton Mowbray (and I got to buy pork pies too).
You can get away with not driving if this sounds do-able to you. I owe my sanity to the cycling I think, it was exercise and a commute in one 🙂
You'll also need your support network sussed out. Will you need to get back to your hometown to see your family and friends?
How long will this take? Midwifery is tough and brilliant and you might want to be able to get back fast to share what's happening with those you love.
Hobbies and Interests:
Your hobbies and interests will be what keeps you afloat as a student and qualified midwife. You need stuff other than midwifery in your life.
Some people will want to be in a small Uni close to outdoor climbing and walking (think Sheffield). Others will be happier doing knitting and crochet and hanging out in coffee shops (Newcastle is my all time favourite place for this). If you want to follow the nightlife, London, Manchester or Cardiff might suit you best.
The activities available to you are definitely a reason to decide on a Uni and will also help you establish you’re a balanced applicant with the admissions tutors when you interview. Don't think you're not a serious applicant if you base your choice around your social life too, it's a very healthy thing to do.
The decisions you make clicking are the first step in gaining a treasure house of midwifery experience. Good luck! I'm excited for you.
I’d love to hear from you, use the form below to comment:
1. Any other considerations you'd like to add?
2. Which Uni do/did you attend as a student midwife? Comment, anonymously if you like, with any guidance for our new applicants
3. Where are you thinking of applying to and why?
p.s. on a GBB (bake-off) related theme have you seen these Nutella Stuffed Muffins? You freeze blobs of Nutella until hard and then place them in the batter before they go into the oven. They sink as they bake and if you get the timing right you end up with Nutella in the middle!