New beginnings: supporting you from graduation to the workforce

By RCM Professional Advisor Caitlin Wilson on 06 September 2023 RCM UK Research Safety Wellbeing Of Women Women ICM - International Congress of Midwives

Graduating from university and making that leap to newly qualified midwife is an exciting time. RCM’s Professional Advisor Caitlin Wilson shares how she first adjusted to her new professional identity as midwife and what the RCM is doing to support all newly qualified midwives this year and throughout the first three years.

You will always remember walking into that first job as a qualified midwife. For me, it was a busy day, like many more to come. It was like buying those back-to-school shoes that didn’t quite fit—at least not yet. Within a few months, I started to find my feet and the shoes fit perfectly. I had found my area of practice where I was flourishing, learning and contributing each and every day and I was proud to be making a difference to one family at a time.

Of course there were the days when I felt overwhelmed and felt like I had so much still to learn. I was lucky to have great support that made the difference. Because of this, I was eager to support other midwives at such an important but vulnerable time in their early career. Building a community of support around preceptorship midwives is key to boosting confidence and improving the workforce, but more needs to be done to grow it.   

This month a unique cohort of students will graduate from university and start their careers as midwives. This cohort has experienced a change in education and practice like no other as a result of the pandemic. They learned how to navigate midwifery learning in lockdown with online lectures and no opportunity for clinical practice until well into their programme. They have proven resilient and brave throughout their studies and, as they take the step into the workforce, it is our duty to support, inform and empower each one.  

To support this year’s newly qualified midwives and all midwives in the first three years of practice, the RCM has produced a new preceptorship guide. It includes support, information and development options. The guide also supports those joining the NMC Register from outside of the UK, or those who are returning to midwifery practice.

This sits alongside the RCM position statement that shares the policy of improving support for newly qualified and early career midwives. Each country in the UK has also developed their own national frameworks for preceptorship.

All this work has been proudly produced by those who, like me, have experienced the leap from student to newly qualified and those that know what it takes to thrive in midwifery. Spoiler alert – you can do it!

These resources reflect the realities of practice and the many different ways that new midwives may be practising straight from registration with the NMC; labour wards, wards, antenatal clinics, community, birth centres and continuity of carer. The resources include real preceptorship stories.  

In August, we texted members who were making the transition from student to NQM to encourage them to update their workplace details. Those members will also receive a preceptorship guide along with other resources by post. If you have not heard from us, or if you need to update your details, please log into your account or contact RCM Connect on 0300 303 0444. 

The early career midwives hub on the RCM website has a number of bespoke resources specifically for those starting out and a dedicated online network of midwives across the UK that you can speak to direct through i-learn. We are also hosting a brand new online webinar for early career midwives on workplace culture and unlocking the leader within you on 14 September. Book today.

Welcome to the class of September 2023!