Paving the road to success
My name is Maritsa Clarke and I am a member of the Hellenic British Midwifery Association. I studied to become a midwife in Thessaloniki, Greece graduating in 2015 and have been working as a rotational preceptorship midwife at the Great Western Hospital Foundation Trust for approximately a year and 5 months.
It was a rough start but after almost a year and a half all my sleepless nights, stress, tears and hard work have paid off. I recently completed my preceptorship and was nominated by our Band 7 practice development midwife to be given a Band 6 position.
In midwifery in the UK, as with nursing, one begins as a newly qualified midwife in a “Band 5” role, in which you are fully supported by your peers and ideally should not be appointed students or additional rolls as you are still finding your feet and transitioning from the roll of “student midwife” to a fully qualified midwife.
As a newly qualified midwife, it is my belief, that a preceptorship position is very important in order to gain confidence and competence in your chosen field. Mine was, and is, midwifery. Throughout my preceptorship and with the support of a wonderful preceptor I gained knowledge, experience and competence in my practice. Preceptorships are very important in the sense that they do not only provide teaching and knowledge, but also evidence of knowledge. Numerous competencies must be obtained in order to complete a preceptorship. At times it can seem daunting and impossible but at the end of the day it is feasible because every Trust wants and needs competent high quality practitioners.
Coming from a completely different health system and having a great number of hurdles to pass I never expected that I would make it through my preceptorship in the time that I did. My confidence and competence when I arrived in the UK was nothing in comparison to the girls who had studied here. My adjustment was harsh and I often felt hopeless and inadequate. I spent a long time on the Antenatal-postnatal ward of my Hospital finding my feet in this foreign (to me) NHS system and when I first stepped into Delivery Suite I was terrified. After a few months, however, the fear left me. I found myself one day walking into work, looking at the names and cases on the board and thinking “Yes, I can do this now.”
The important thing to remember in such professions is not only to know your strengths, but know your weaknesses and limitations. You are not alone, you are part of a strong team that will guide and help you along your road. I find myself in the happy position to feel like I am part of the GWH family and that I will now be able to assist and share my knowledge with others while always continuing to learn. And we learn every day.
Another useful step on the road to success is CPD, or continued professional development. It is paramount not only to keep up to date with the latest guidelines, but to continue to learn and gain additional knowledge in your field of practice. Feed your mind with new and exciting research and study days. Learn and practice new skills. Work/life balance can be tough in medical and paramedical professions but there is always time to learn if you want to.
In my new roll as a Band 6 midwife I am going to embark on a mentorship course with the University of the West of England (UWE) and have other exciting projects coming up. I have always loved teaching and sharing knowledge and I learn something new every day. Having goals and aspirations was a big part of my journey. I dream of one day, in the not too far away future, to go back home to Rhodes, Greece and provide a different kind of midwifery care to the women who so deserve our attention. It is this dream that has kept me strong enough to get to where I am today with unlimited opportunities unfolding in front of me.
My suggestions in order to achieve your goals are: to have dreams and let them pave the way for you. If you believe in your abilities and have a passion for what you do, or as many of us have “a calling”, you can reach those goals. Ask for help when it is needed. Nobody is superhuman, and in the hospital “family” nobody has to do it alone.
It is an honour and a privilege to be a practicing midwife and I could never do anything else. This is my calling and my journey on the road to success.