Scholarship that opens the door to research – and opportunity

By Dr Kerry Evans on 25 June 2021 Maternity Services Wellbeing Of Women NHS NHS Staff RCM Research

The Wellbeing of Women (WoW) and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Entry-Level Research Scholarship was pivotal in my career as a clinical academic midwife and helped me achieve my ambition to progress midwifery-led research to improve the care of women and families.

At the time of the scholarship, I had been a midwife for eight years, completed an MA in research methods and sought various development opportunities including working as a lecturer practitioner and midwife research champion. I had a keen interest in perinatal mental health, in particular, improving the care, experiences and outcomes of women with symptoms of anxiety in pregnancy. The WoW and RCM Entry-Level Research Scholarship enabled me to build my research skills and develop a strong PhD application whilst maintaining and developing my clinical role.

During the scholarship I worked in the intrapartum care setting and spent two days per week undertaking preparatory research. I completed a psychometric systematic review and a qualitative study to explore the performance and acceptability of anxiety self-report measures for pregnant women. I also identified an experienced clinical and academic supervisory team who guided me through the award and continued to support my clinical academic career. Towards the end of the scholarship, I published my research in peer reviewed journals and worked on my PhD application, informed by the findings of my studies.

In 2014, I was awarded the WoW and RCM Doctoral Training Fellowship to develop and test a midwife-facilitated intervention to support women with symptoms of mild to moderate anxiety in pregnancy. This has led to further successful clinical academic awards, NIHR/ARC post-doctoral bridging award in 2019 and I was the first midwife to be awarded the HEE/NIHR ICA Clinical Lectureship award in 2020.

I am very grateful to WoW and the RCM for providing the Entry-level Research Scholarship for midwives and for providing me with the opportunity to improve women’s care and experiences through my research. The scholarship formed the first step towards my clinical academic career, allowing me to contribute to the future direction of maternity care research and demonstrate the benefits of a research aware and skilled midwifery workforce.

Dr Kerry Evans RM, Associate Professor, University of Nottingham, School of Health Sciences, HEE / NIHR Clinical Lecturer, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Applications are now open for the year’s scholarship. For further information and support, contact the Head of Midwifery Information & Research Services & Editor MIDIRS [email protected] and to apply for the WoW-RCM scholarships please visit the Wellbeing of Women website