After high school, I didn’t go to university straight away because I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do after I finished Year 12. I ended up travelling to the UK before moving back to Sydney to work in various hospitality and customer service jobs. After some time, I travelled to the US to be a nanny.
When I finished the nanny position, I realised that I wanted to work in a role that focused on people and on providing care. I began studying at university; I received a regional scholarship and was able to complete an undergraduate degree in nursing in Armidale, which is where I grew up.
I chose to study at UTS because I wanted to experience a metropolitan university. I wanted to be part of a bigger institution that has an excellent reputation. UTS is also affiliated with one of the larger hospitals in Sydney. During my nursing career, I had mostly worked in smaller hospitals so I wanted to experience a different type of environment.
The most rewarding of this degree part was getting to know all of my fellow students. My undergraduate education was carried out both on and off campus, which meant that I didn’t become a cohesive part of my cohort. However, coming here and meeting a range of different people who were all in different stages of life, was amazing. We were all coming together because we were all passionate about becoming midwives. It was a great environment, as I was with people who chose to learn and extend their skills.
Plus, the structure of the Graduate Diploma in Midwifery was fantastic. I felt that the learning was deeply integrated with the practical experience – I would learn something one day and then the next day, I would be practising it.
The degree also opened my eyes to the differing experiences of women who come from all backgrounds. Growing up, I was never truly exposed to the different ways people live. Learning about the way women birth around the world, even in different regions of Australia, made me realise that we don’t have a universal health care: your experience is dependent on where you are and what you have access to. Our lecturers taught us the skills that would help make the experience of women everywhere better.
As a midwife, you work with women to help them discover how strong they are as they withstand all the changes in their body and environment. Because you work so closely with them, their successes become your successes. I still remember the first solo birth catch that I did, and even now, I am still struck by the same feeling of empowerment and trust. It never stops being an experience.
Furthermore, I am passionate about communities. I believe that we are no longer connected to our communities as much as we used to be, and that this is extremely detrimental to our social and physical health. Even though I have travelled and moved around a lot, I always try and integrate myself into the community as much as possible, whether it be through community gardens or volunteer work.
Being a part of the community is also important because it gives you the chance to talk to different people about what you do. There are so many people in the community who don’t know that health care professionals like us exist, who don’t understand what we do or how we can help, so talking to people and spreading the word can help people make better decisions about their health and the options that are out there.
I am currently completing my graduate year at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, which is also where I trained and studied. I’ve spent three months in the delivery unit doing solo births and I’ve also spent three months in the special care nursery. In this ward, I have been able to marry my nursing skills with my midwifery skills, which has been incredible. Nursing and Midwifery are very different professions, so I’m glad I was able to find a way to balance them.
In the future, I’d like to come back to UTS and do a Master of Midwifery. UTS set me up with a good understanding that your learning never stops and that you can’t complain about a system not working if you’re not willing to help make it better. There are aspects of the health care system that frustrate me and I want to contribute to a system that works for people. Starting my next step of learning, particularly in a research role, is a great way to achieve this.
The Graduate Diploma of Midwifery is the kind of degree where you have to wholly commit yourself to it. If you are thinking about doing it, you have to make sure you are in the right place to do it and are surrounded by a supportive network of people, as it can be extremely taxing. However, it is well worth it in the end.
Because midwifery is such an empathetic role, you often fail to realise how much it affects you. Formal and informal debriefs are crucial. Debriefing can help you discover recurring issues that you can take back to the workplace and resolve.
I also try and visit the women after they have given birth, particularly if the birth was not as straightforward as we’d like. Following up gives me the chance to explain in more detail.
Another recommendation is to keep track of the births! Everyone always asks me how many I’ve done and I’m never sure, so find some way to keep track. However, while taking on other people’s advice is helpful, you will end up discovering your own ways of coping.
Find out more about Midwifery at UTS.