How to change your career and become a Midwife
If you're a good communicator and a caring person this could be the career change for you.
21st February 2011
Have you reached a point in your current career where you no longer get the satisfaction or progression you are looking for? A career in midwifery could give you endless fulfillment, a structured career path in the healthcare sector, and the chance to work full time or part time as you choose. There will always be a demand for qualified midwives in both the public and private sectors, so it’s likely you will be able to find midwife jobs either in your area, or close by.
A midwife’s job is to support women through the process of bringing new life into the world. Midwives are advocates for the care of both mother and baby, and the involvement of each woman in planning her pregnancy and birth. The role of the midwife is more centered around women’s health and the role of the woman in bringing the baby into the world, and there is a distinction between the role of the midwife and a children’s nurse. If you are looking for a career working with children then being a midwife probably isn’t the one for you but you could consider instead becoming a paediatric nurse.
A midwife will be be involved with the pregnancy from start to finish by giving advice throughout, antenatal and postnatal care and of course, will be present during the delivery. A woman would normally be in the care of a midwife from the moment she becomes pregnant until the end of the post-natal period, which is not less than 10 days after the baby is born and as long as the midwife deems necessary.
Midwife Jobs in the UK and Abroad
There is a shortage of qualified midwives in the UK and abroad, so even with the current budgetary situation in this country there is still a need to recruit both experienced and newly qualified midwives. A newly qualified midwife working for the NHS will often start at the first pay point in band 5, which is currently £21,176 per annum, but salaries in the private sector vary and there is no set starting salary. Traditionally a midwife working in the private sector would be paid more than in the NHS, but that is not always the case now.
If you are thinking of moving abroad after your complete your midwife training, there are plenty of recruitment agencies that now offer to help with the whole process of emigrating, finding a job and registering with the correct organisation in order to practice. There are often midwife jobs advertised in New Zealand, Australia and the Middle East, but it’s common that these jobs require a minimum of 2 years post registration experience and sometimes more depending on the level of the job.
But if you’re thinking of staying the UK when you qualify, there are plenty of midwife jobs advertised here as well. Most of the jobs at the moment are available through agencies who are sometimes able to place midwives within the NHS. A midwife job can be either permanent, temporary or on the NHS bank, and either full or part time. Many midwives choose to work part time to fit in family or other commitments.
What skills does a Midwife need?
A midwife needs a varied range of skills, including the ability to offer objective counsel and advice in a clear and simple way, and to take overall responsibility for the care of the pregnant woman. This requires the initiative to work alone and as a part of the wider healthcare team where necessary.
It’s also essential for a midwife to understand the different approaches to childbirth held by different cultures. For example, in Chinese tradition it used to be common that the mother and baby would be isolated for a month after the birth in order for the bond between mother and child to become fully established. This tradition is sometimes overlooked in our modern world, but some families do still observe this.
A midwife must also be able to overcome any personal views they may have about the age, circumstances or religious beliefs of a woman in their care, and put the health and wellbeing of both mother and child at the forefront of every decision. They should be able to remain objective at all times and react quickly when required to do so. A calm approach to a pressurised situation and the ability to take on individual responsibility are also essential skills for every midwife to possess.
How do I become a Midwife?
If you’re not already a qualified nurse, you have to apply to a university to study a three year degree course in Midwifery. Many UK universities offer a course in midwifery, most of which result in the BSc (Hons) Midwifery qualification. However there are some universities that offer the Bachelor of Midwifery course, but both courses contain approximately 50% theoretical and 50% practical work.
You will typically spend the first two terms studying elements of the theory part of the course at the university campus. You will then begin the placement part of the course in a relevant setting e.g. with a community midwifery team or on a labour ward. There will be a set of learning outcomes you will be expected to achieve and usually a module of academic work that accompanies the placement.
Studying a midwifery course at university is the most direct route, but some midwives qualify as nurses first, then do an 18 month conversion course to become a dual qualified nurse midwife. That can take up to 5 years to achieve with undergraduate and then post graduate study.
How do I make it clear in my application I definitely want to be a Midwife?
Midwifery is a very competitive course to get into and places are highly sought after at every intake. That being said, if it’s the career you’ve decided you want to pursue then there is no reason that with a strong application you shouldn’t be selected for interview. Any evidence that helps to demonstrate your commitment to this career path will be useful. For example, you could ask to shadow a midwife in your local area to get a more detailed picture of the day to day role. You could also approach a family member who is currently, or was recently, in the care of a midwife and ask lots of questions about the experience.
The more knowledge you can demonstrate in your personal statement, the better your application will be. Any volunteering or work experience in a caring environment, or anytime you’ve acted as a counsellor when someone wanted to talk through their problems with you will be helpful. Communication skills as a whole, including giving clear instructions and listening are particularly valuable so if you can give evidence of these that will really enhance your application.
For full details on how to write a personal statement, see our article. It’s more focused towards nursing but the principles are the same. All an admissions officer is looking for in your application is that you’re completely committed to becoming a midwife then pursuing the career after you qualify, and that they aren’t giving away a place to someone who won’t take it seriously.
Becoming a midwife involves a great deal of hard work, research and planning. It’s not easy to work out how you can afford to study, but with time and a little investigative work you can find out what funding you’re entitled to and then work out a budget for your time at university. Planning will continue throughout your studies as you will need to be aware of when assignments are due, where and when you have be at your placement and what days you have lectures. You will need a detailed plan of your time to ensure you don’t miss anything.
Working as a midwife also involves a great deal of organisation and flexibility as you will often be working with more than one woman at a time, as well as attending the birth whenever that occurs. It’s a highly rewarding career, and one many people train for as mature students once they’ve had some life experience, or after they’ve had a family of their own.
With thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for the lovely picture