My elective reflection at The Royal College of Midwives

By Student Midwife Jessica Rawlinson on 06 August 2019 Student midwives

In the hottest week of the year in July 2019, I embarked upon a journey with the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for my elective placement as part of my midwifery training. I am a second-year student midwife and I had an opportunity to organise a placement allowing me to explore alternative service provisions within midwifery which are different to my clinical experience and the trust I am familiar with as part of my degree.

The Royal College of Midwives plays a large part in my future career. During my very first week of University I encountered representatives of the RCM and was encouraged to become a member. Not only did they offer incredible eLearning modules but they are also a trade union which gives legal advice, malpractice insurance and representation if needed (everyone’s idea of a complete nightmare!). Further into my degree, I have found their research papers and evidence-based midwifery journals invaluable when writing essays. I have grown more and more thankful for my membership, but I wanted to know more!

My elective opportunity became the ideal scenario where I could develop my knowledge of the RCM further. I wrote an email hoping the RCM could accommodate an elective placement and very quickly had a response from Gill Adgie, who later played such a massive part in the wonderful care and experience I gained.

From the minute I walked through the door of RCM Head Office in London, I received such a warm and kind reception from everyone. My very first experience was the huddle which CEO Gill Walton leads every Monday morning. The team go through the previous week’s events and the forthcoming planned activities. Everyone introduced themselves to me and from that moment on I felt part of the team. There were people in that room with such importance and responsibility but at that moment it was as if we were all equal and familiar friends.

During the week I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting Gill Walton one to one. We sat in her office and talked about how special midwifery is… to be part of a woman’s journey to motherhood and be at the birth of new life, surely has to be the greatest gift of all. Gill has so much experience of midwifery care all around the UK after being a midwife for various trusts around the country. It also turned out that she was recently the Director of Midwifery at the hospital trust in which I was born! She was such an inspiration to me and so passionate about supporting, promoting and influencing the care families receive.

As my week progressed, I had the opportunity to attend meetings about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at the Royal College of Medicine as well as Maternity Transformation at a national meeting. I learned so much from these and was amazed by the brilliance and knowledge of those present from across multiple disciplines.

I also had the pleasure of meeting professional midwifery advisors, the Head of Health and Social Policy, the RCM Global Team and their Press Department. I attended meetings which discussed English workforce issues, branch governance, as well as working with the Employment Relations Advisor looking at a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and the data which would be needed to respond to it. I even had the opportunity to meet Professor Jaqueline Dunkley-Bent OBE – Chief Midwifery Officer for NHS England. I was awestruck but she spoke with me on such a personal level despite my student status, as did everyone I met.

I was absolutely overwhelmed with the support, experience and insight I had gained in just a week! We walked across London multiple times to reach all of the meetings – the team never seem to stop.

The Royal College of Midwives is truly the voice of midwifery and play such a large part in trying to improve care not only in the UK but all over the world. I had no idea of the global reach and influence they have. They are the strongest and largest midwifery organisation in the world. With over 48,000 members I feel so very lucky to be a member of their organisation. They work tirelessly to try and provide better outcomes for women and their families, support their members including students, midwifery support workers and qualified midwives, caring for us. From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank the Royal College of Midwives for being there for us all, via email or just a phone call!

I would encourage everyone to find out more about what they do and can do for us all.