Guest blog: ‘Bouncing Back’ - an interdisciplinary event on resilience in health and social care

By Jayne Cardwell Vice-chair, QUB Midwifery Society on 06 November 2019 Health and social care Midwifery

On 21 October, the Midwifery Society at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) hosted an interdisciplinary event on resilience in health and social care called ‘Bouncing Back’. As vice-chair of the Midwifery Society, I took the lead on organising this event (ably supported by the rest of the society committee) which also doubled as my project for the Student Leadership Programme - a partnership between the Council of Deans of Health and the Burdett Trust for Nursing, aimed at developing and promoting leadership in future midwives, nurses and allied health professionals across the UK.

The aim of the event was to encourage interprofessional learning on resilience, a very prominent topic across all health and social care disciplines. As a Midwifery Society, we hoped that everyone who attended the event would take something very practical away from it; that students would be encouraged and enabled to develop greater resilience as well as to establish the time and mechanisms for self-care required to look after their own well-being, in order to avoid stress and burn-out in their future careers.

The event attracted approximately 70 students from both QUB and Ulster University, across the fields of midwifery, nursing, social work and medicine. Karen Murray, RCM Director for Northern Ireland, opened the event which included guest speakers Dr Paula McFadden (Senior Lecturer in Social Work, Ulster University), Dr Patricia Gillen (Reader in the School of Nursing, Ulster University and Head of R&D for Nurses, Midwives and AHPs in the Southern Health & Social Care Trust) and Stephen Hamilton (Psychiatric Nurse and Associate Lecturer, QUB). The topics of stress, resilience and burnout; workplace culture and workforce wellbeing; and maximising your resilience and wellness as a student, were covered by these speakers, who were then joined by Owen Darby (Social Worker in Maternity Social Services, Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital), Dr Jennifer McKenna (Registered Midwife and Midwifery Lecturer, QUB) and Dr Courtney McMullan (Obstetrics and Gynaecology Registrar, South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust) for an audience-led Question and Answer session.

The QUB Midwifery Society received very positive feedback on the event from students, speakers and panel members in relation to the multidisciplinary and interuniversity aspects of the event. Students in particular enjoyed the Question and Answer session, as the panellists frankly and honestly discussed work-related struggles, coping mechanisms, support, as well as highlights within their jobs. There were many examples of dealing with stressful environments and emotional situations with an emphasis on the importance of finding individual methods of self-care and self-development. We hope that the event will have encouraged students to reflect on and develop their own personal resilience toolkits to enable them to bounce back from stresses and strains in their university environments and future careers.

As a result of this event, both the Nursing and the Obstetrics & Gynaecology societies at QUB have expressed their desire to collaborate with the QUB Midwifery Society on future events, and we are delighted to be able to continue our interdisciplinary approach to learning.