RCM mentoring platform - Thoughts of mentee
My midwifery career began more than 21 years ago when I started working clinically as a staff midwife at a large hospital in the East of England. That hospital is now an even larger teaching hospital with a tertiary level NICU, a busy and demanding workplace. Within the first three years of qualifying as a midwife in 2000, I had embarked on an MSc in Health Sciences, using my previously obtained economics degree to steer me into health economics modules. I pursued other avenues throughout the following years. As well as clinical shifts in all the major London hospitals, I was appointed as a Supervisor of Midwives, when that was still a thing, and a university midwifery lecturer (more post graduate courses). I worked in Spain and South America, delivering training to maternity workers, and I tried my hand at legal expert witness work. I have also recently gained a PhD, following an investment of many years of study.
At this juncture in my work life, however, with oversight of all my professional decisions, and reflection on my achievements, I have begun to accept that what has been lacking is support, advice, and direction. Support in helping me to unearth my potential more wisely, advice on the different paths I could have taken, and direction in helping me to envisage a longer view. That direction would also have helped me to make strategic decisions about my career which may have meant my being in a different place now. I believe I would have had greater opportunity (and courage, and confidence) to make more of a difference in the service I have devoted my time and heart to for these past decades.
Midwives and MSWs who are from minority backgrounds, particularly racially and ethnically, face a host of disadvantages compared with their white colleagues. The Turning the Tide report (October 2020) drew attention to the effects of institutional and structural racism on experiences of personal life and career development, how it is not always open and visible, but yet can determine what opportunities are opened up and made available. In this context, specific and targeted mentoring is a necessary intervention.
My desire to be mentored comes from knowing that I need help in setting goals, building confidence in my professional self, and having encouragement and positive feedback. Like other midwives and MSWs, despite being part of a global majority, we have occupied positions of relative disadvantage in the UK. We have been unable to reach our potential in a system which has been problematic for our success. Mentoring is beneficial in such circumstances as it starts by recognising that people are worthwhile, and have important ideas, skills, and talents to contribute to our service. Ultimately, as well as ourselves, women, babies and families will also benefit.
For more information on the RCM mentoring platform visit Turning the Tide Mentoring at The Royal College of Midwives (onpld.com).