The student perspective: making a difference

By Lucy Richards, University of South Wales on 21 January 2022 Midwives Student midwives SMF - Student Midwives Forum

Hello, my name is Lucy, and I am a second-year midwifery student at the University of South Wales. Its mad to believe that I am pretty much already halfway through my studies and next year I will be qualifying. My first year was not the usual university experience. Like many students I started my degree in the middle of a global pandemic during lockdowns, isolation periods and staff shortages. 

I spent my first day of university all dressed up armed with my new stationary sat in front of my laptop meeting my cohort in the virtual world doing my lectures all online and this would continue for the first full year only being able to go onto campus to skills days in small groups. It came with struggles that I never could have imagined. It was quite lonely.

Like many I had to adapt to spending so much time at a desk in my bedroom only communicating with my cohort via virtual meetings and WhatsApp groups. This became the norm, and as much as the theory interested me I would count down the days to clinical skill days where our study bubbles would meet on campus. It was these times that made me appreciate the importance of human contact.  

Our university has our learning done in blocks of theory and placement, and once our first theory block was done, I was sent out into the real world on clinical placement. I had worked as a health care worker on a ward prior so was familiar and fairly used to shift patterns. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was how in maternity care, you must expect the unexpected.

No day is ever the same when you’re out on placement, you must be ready for anything. I knew I always wanted to be a midwife, but it’s when I am on placement that I am reminded why. The people you get to meet and what you get to be a part of. Of course, it comes with its struggles. Having to complete a full working week unpaid and having to pick up bank shifts just to keep some money coming in. Sometimes the travel to placement is quite far, one placement had me leaving the house at 6am and not getting home until 8pm. But it’s a price I don’t mind paying because I love being out in practice so much.  

Going into this career I always wanted to make sure I made a difference, which is what initially inspired me to apply for a seat on the RCM Student Midwife Forum. I never usually put myself out there but after some prompting from a few of my fellow students I plucked up the courage to apply. The application process itself was not that difficult, however I did find it difficult getting everything I wanted to say written down in 500 words! I was overwhelmed when I got the email saying I had been elected, I cannot wait to meet the rest of the team and see where this next year as a representative has in store! 

Lucy Richards is a full fledged member of the RCM Student Midwife Forum and works to support student midwives in her local area, while working with the RCM to improve the experience of student midwives at local and national level. Find out more about the SMF.