On the 29th August 2018, the student midwives at UWS held there annual conference at Paisley Campus. The theme of this year’s conference was “Times of Change” which is very apt as a new model of midwifery care is being introduced in Scotland as part of the Scottish Governments policy direction Best Start: A five-year forward plan for maternity and neonatal care in Scotland. This topic was further explored by the Keynote speaker Dr Mary Ross Davie who gave a reassuring account of what Best Start means, for not only the pregnant women of Scotland but also what it would mean for the midwives working in this new model of care. Mary acknowledged that UWS students will grow and evolve with this model, this change should hold no fear for them as UWS prepares students very well for the workplace as evidenced in the recent NSS survey where students were 100% satisfied with the midwifery programme at UWS. As always the students embraced this change and the challenge of the exciting times in maternity services that lie ahead.
The second speakers of the day were two second-year student midwives, Lauren O’Neill and Sarah Scarlett who enjoyed a three weeks elective placement in Greece during the summer. The students successfully raised funds for this experience which included a generous donation from the UWS Midwifery Society. All monies raised were utilised to aid their efforts to fulfil this incredible learning opportunity, this included an opportunity to make a generous donation to the charity they were hosted by an organisation called Amurtel. Their presentation was entitled “The Journeys we make: Brave women facing diversity”. The presentation was thought-provoking, shocking distressing and uplifting including details of the arduous journeys women make seeking refuge /asylum in Europe. The statistics presented were disturbing, to say the least. However, out of all of this, there was hope for a better future with stories of the strength of women overcoming so many challenges inspiring all in the audience. The learning that both these students gained from this short placement were invaluable and very evident in their outlook on caring for women who are refugees or seeking asylum.
Jo Hughes then treated the students to a session, Jo is the Family Support Service Manager at Down’s syndrome Scotland. Her presentation centred on supporting parents through screening and diagnosis of Down’s syndrome; as a parent of a child with Down’s syndrome she gave a very balanced account of how health care professionals can be more supportive and less negative about such a diagnosis; and a timely reminder of the respectful language that we should use when engaging with parents. Jo also provided literature containing useful information and contact details for the conference delegates to peruse at their leisure.
Opportunities in times of change were the title of the next speaker’s presentation Tony Gaston championed the work of EMMS International, EMMS is a charity providing medical aid to countries around the world, inducing Malawi, India, Israel and Nepal. Tony told the audience how EMMS could work in promoting and supporting elective placements that provide opportunities for mutual learning in partner hospitals. Including opportunities for students to participate in training and education of healthcare workers whilst giving students a chance to hone their skills with the potential to have a positive impact on the hospitals and health care clinics, many of which are lacking in resources.
There was an opportunity for the delegates to view a variety of exhibitors’ stands, including stands from Breastfeeding Network, Down’s Syndrome Support Network, and the RCM. The third-year students hosted a Recycle/Upcycle stand giving their fellow students a chance to increase the number of uniforms that they have by purchasing a “previously loved” uniform, a campaign that was started by Sheona Brown one of the midwifery lecturers who is our UWS Green Impact Sustainability representative. This stand proved very popular with the students raising just over £40, which they kindly donated to the newly established UWS Midwifery scholarship fund.
The theme of “Time for Change” continued in the afternoon as all of the student midwives was arranged in groups that contained 1st, 2nd and 3rd-year students; with 2020 sees every educational institution in Scotland revalidating midwifery programmes. The midwifery team took this opportunity to pose nine topics for the students to discuss in their groups, with the students given the opportunity to propose how they see future MSc and BSc midwifery programmes. Once collated the students’ commentary will form the basis on which the future curriculum will be developed.
During the day the Tombola stand raised the grand sum of £126 for the students chosen charity Stillbirth and Neonatal Deaths Society (SANDS). Two midwives from Glasgow Princess Royal Maternity – Ellen Richardson and Caitlin Tierney had a cake and candy stall to raise sponsorship for a Sky Dive they were doing to raise funds to renovate a Family Room within labour ward in collaboration with Simpson’s Memorial Box Appeal SiMBA .
The day drew to a close with MSc programme leaders Lyz Howie and BSc programme leader Jean Watson awarding prizes to 3rd year MSc student Salwa Rahim Davies and 3rd year BSc student Alana Banks acknowledging their outstanding services to promoting UWS Midwifery activities.
Finally, the exiting students were presented with their UWS badges by Lead Midwife for education Hilary Patrick.
With the majority of the exiting third-year students already having secured permanent posts as newly qualified midwives, the future is bright and we look forward to the 7th Student Midwives Annual Conference here at the New Lanarkshire Campus in August 2019.