Student Midwife Cara Evans on her elective at RCM

By Cara Evans, student midwife on 24 May 2019 Student midwives

Before making the trip down to London to carry out my elective at the Royal College of Midwives, I wasn't sure what to expect. Despite having worked alongside the RCM at several points throughout my studies, I wanted to know exactly how the RCM worked and what their multifaceted role within the profession was.

When I arrived, I had a varied and busy week planned. On Monday, I received a warm welcome and was shown around the offices, having the opportunity to meet many of the members of staff. From here, I spent the morning with Bernie Divall, Professional Advisor for Leadership, who happened to be one of my lecturers at university. It was brilliant to hear of the work the RCM is doing to inspire leadership within midwives, both clinically and professionally. From here, I went on to speak with Kate Brintworth, Head of Maternity Transformation. Kate showed me the nine work streams for transformation and told me about the RCM's role of being the voice of midwives in discussions surrounding the transformations and improvement of maternity services. In the afternoon, I was taught by Joy Kemp, how to review a piece of work for publication. This was both insightful and gave me useful skills in knowing what to look for in my own writing.

On Tuesday, I attended the RCM's International Day of the Midwife (IDM) event, which covered all the ways midwives can defend women's rights, looking especially at those who are most vulnerable within society. While, it was upsetting, it was also empowering to know that this profession can have such a vital role in defending the rights of the vulnerable.

Wednesday, was a particularly exciting day. In the morning, I had the privilege of attending the Genomics roundtable for Health Education England with Carmel Lloyd. Here I learnt about how Genomics testing is likely to play a larger role within the NHS and in turn, how its theory can be implemented into midwifery and nursing education. In the afternoon, I attended the House of Commons for World Maternal Mental Health Day. The roundtable discussed in particular, supporting women in the workplace and maternal mental health. It was exciting to hear about evolving policy that hopes to support women's mental health and increases the involvement of partners during the postnatal period. I even had the opportunity to ask the roundtable a question, which was both exciting and nerve-wracking!

Thursday, I had the opportunity to work with both Janet Fyle and Gabrielle Bourke, Policy Advisors for the RCM. Policy is an area I am particularly interested in, making it really insightful seeing what the role entails on a day-to-day basis. While multifaceted, the role often entails working with other organisations and professionals to achieve changes in policy that support women, students and midwives.

Friday, I attended King's College wonderful IDM event as well as spending time with Joy Kemp. My afternoon with Joy gave me an understanding of the international work the RCM is involved with and how this is a mutually beneficial part of the RCM's work. At the end of my week, Joy asked me to list three things I have learnt, one thing that has inspired me and three things I am going to do as a result of this week.

Three things I have learnt:

  • How the RCM works and what their vision is

  • The roles midwives play are vast - it has been fascinating to see all of the ways midwives can work and specialise, to utilise their experience, passions and knowledge
  • It is people with passion who change things - all of the people I had the pleasure of working with all contribute hugely to improving the midwifery profession, while each had their unique interests and fields of knowledge, what everyone shared was passion for their work

The thing that inspired me most was all of it, I know that's a terrible answer but I cannot choose. Every person I spent time with has inspired me in a different way.

Three things that I am going to do:

  • Ensure when I go back to placement and university, I share the work that the RCM has done and continues to do
  • Think about my key passions and priorities so that I can work towards having a positive impact on women and midwives

  • Learn new skills - as I am nearing qualifying, I am aware I have a lot of skills I need to gain to be able to have a positive impact. Therefore, the next couple of years will involve me gaining new skills and consolidating my midwifery practice

My week with the Royal College of Midwives is an experience I won't forget and I hope to be back one day using my passions to make a difference.