The student perspective: the SMF and what we do

By Renée Bull on 09 February 2022 Midwives

The RCM student midwife forum (SMF) is formed of nine student midwives from Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England all of which are at varying stages of their training. The SMF is formed in this way to ensure we represent students from different areas, backgrounds, cultures and across the different years of training.

The main purpose of the SMF is to allow student midwives to have a prominent voice in the RCM and enable students from across the country to voice their feelings, concerns, and positive experiences of their training. Feedback and information is gathered by regional SMF members in various ways and fed directly into the RCM via regular meetings with relevant RCM colleagues. The SMF works closely alongside the RCM to shine light on student issues and recognise students as the future of midwifery.

In recent years and especially during the pandemic, the SMF has been able to accomplish many things. Some SMF members were given the opportunity to speak to MPs about the impact of the pandemic on students which raised awareness among those making policies. During the pandemic, the SMF was also able to successfully campaign to have student midwives included in the life assurance policy for healthcare workers, recognising the incredible work student midwives continued to do throughout the pandemic.

The SMF has also been able to support students to understand the transition to the new NMC standards. For the 2021 RCM Conference, the SMF spoke to Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, about the new standards, what they mean for future practice and why it is important to keep updating these. This was a significant moment for the SMF as student midwives may not usually get an opportunity to discuss these topics with leading figures in our industry.

The SMF continues to do excellent work to support and advocate for students in all aspects of their training. Currently we are working on a series of webinars covering important topics such as decolonising midwifery education which is a huge issue in current midwifery education and practice. One of the keyways we are able to spread the word about key issues is through our very active social media accounts as we feel this is a particular platform that student midwives can engage with easily and effectively.

I first heard about the SMF from my university shortly after I had started my midwifery training and knew instantly that it was something I was passionate about being involved in. I applied as I felt a strong desire to be at the heart of student issues and being able to work closely with the RCM seemed like a great opportunity.

During my time on the SMF, I have been able to advocate for students, fight for equality in all areas of midwifery and improve my skills in activism and leadership. I have recently been voted as Chair of the SMF and am honoured to hold this position. I feel this experience will enable me to be a better qualified midwife in the future by seeking improvement and advocating for the women I care for. Going forward I hope to continue the great work the SMF are doing and as Chair hope I can make a difference to students by raising topics that are close to their hearts.