The Simulation Suite still amazes me

Laura Clarke, midwifery student

Laura Clarke, 33, is studying Midwifery.

What was your inspiration for a Midwifery degree?
In school I was drawn to human biology and fascinated by conception, pregnancy and birth. After the birth of my son, experiencing midwifery from a woman’s perspective, I knew that midwifery was the career for me. This was further strengthened when I had the opportunity to be a friend's birthing partner. Nine years after the birth of my son I started my midwifery journey.

Why this degree?
Midwifery is challenging and diverse and I can appreciate how difficult the role of midwife can be. I am particularly interested in parent education and health promotion. I jump at the chance to work alongside my mentor delivering antenatal classes or conducting a booking appointment with a family. I understand that midwives play a crucial part in promoting and facilitating the normal process of pregnancy and birth.

Tell us about the simulation suite. How does it help your learning?
The simulation suite is amazing! It still amazes me every time I visit. The birthing simulator, or Noelle (Gaumard Noelle) as we call her, can be programmed to simulate a normal or complicated birth. This allows the whole process to be broken down into smaller pieces to help us, as students, fully understand and visualise the process. This really boasted my confidence before my first labour ward placement. This continues for all skills. Appropriate Skills are usually taught in the sim suite before placement allowing you to have a hands on approach, and practice the manual dexterity, before being placed into a clinical environment. I found the sim suite invaluable during OCSEs (objective structured clinical examinations) as we were able to practice manoeuvres for clinical emergencies, such as breech birth, making the situation more realistic.

Do you feel supported?
As a small cohort, the mentors and tutors get to know every one of us. This gives the whole process of assessments a more personal touch, allowing your progress to be better monitored. I have always found the University to be extremely helpful and accommodating if there are any issues that need to be addressed on placement. The University also has a buddy system in place for student midwives that allows you to share information and support with students from different years.

Why come here to study it?
After visiting USW and seeing their outstanding facilities, I couldn’t see myself anywhere else. I spoke to tutors, student ambassadors and toured the campus and knew this is where I wanted to study. USW covers three health boards. Within those are district general hospitals and midwifery-led birthing centres. This would mean that I would gain an ample mixture of normal and complex clinical placements. I felt that this would give me a wide range of experiences to take into practice after I qualified.

What have you enjoyed learning about?
During year two, I had the opportunity to complete my ‘round robin’ placements. This gave me a snapshot into other services women and their families might access, such as special care baby unit, gynecology and fetal medicine. It meant I had a better understanding of the different situations they might find themselves in. I’m very passionate about parent education and relished the challenge of developing my own teaching package, which I then delivered to families in an antenatal class.

Tell us about the teaching
All of the tutors have been so supportive. When I came to the course, I felt like I was the only one who didn’t know this, that or the other. I have had many a crisis of confidence during my time on the course. The tutors have helped nurture me and develop my confidence, allowing me to see that I am no different, everyone feels this way. If it was easy, the course could be done in a few weeks. It’s about progression and developing the skills and practice to be a competent midwife.

What do you consider your greatest achievements so far?
My greatest achievement has been empowering women and their families to have a safe and fulfilling pregnancy and birth. I feel extremely privileged to be a part of a families journey into parenthood. From the first birth, which I will never forget, onwards. It is a truly special honour and pleasure to be involved in such an intimate experience.

What are your future plans?
To begin with I am quite looking forward to being a midwife without the academic side! However, academia has been a big part of my life for the last five years so I know I will eventually go on to study as a postgraduate. I would like to complete the neonatal examination course. This will allow me to further my knowledge of the neonate and deviations from the norm, as well as allow me to provide a more comprehensive service to families I have cared for.

What’s the best bit of advice you would give to people thinking about studying midwifery at USW?
Midwifery is the very competitive and places are in demand. I would advise anyone thinking about studying at USW to visit the campus open days, speak to tutors and students, get a feel for the university and what they are looking for. Make yourself stand out, ask questions. It will all help with your application.