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Jessica Smith BSc (Hons) Midwifery, 2016


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Hi, I'm Jessica Smith and I studied Midwifery at the University of Southampton.

I recently had an essay published in the British Journal of Midwifery which I submitted for a third year module assessment. It really showed me just how far I have come from my first day in first year, and all the fantastic teaching I received during my three years at Southampton.

What made you select the University of Southampton for your undergraduate study?

I knew of the excellent reputation of the University of Southampton and was eager to study at a University at the forefront of research. I also wanted to attend a  university with a campus based feel and was drawn in by Highfield Campus and its lovely setting.

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

Southampton has lots to offer so was a really great city to live in whilst studying. There is something for everyone, as the New Forest is right on your doorstep but the town centre and West Quay is also only a short walk away. Southampton has a big student population so students are catered for really well, with lots of discounts and fun nights out.

What did you enjoy about the course?

I particularly enjoyed the variety that my course offered. With a mixture of academic blocks and clinical placements I felt I was able to continually learn new things and consolidate my learning by putting theory into practice. Our teaching sessions were a mixture of role-play, group discussion, seminar-based work and self-directed study so learning was always interesting and directly relevant to clinical practice.

Were there any modules that you particularly enjoyed?

In third year we completed a 'Autonomous Midwifery Practice with Case-load Experience' module looking at the contemporary midwifery practitioner and exploring decision-making within midwifery. I found this module really eye-opening as it encouraged me to think critically about the decision-making processes we go through every day and what informs our decisions. Exploring the techniques and tools I use to make clinical decisions highlighted to me the complexity of midwifery however also allowed me to think logically about how to best make decisions in practice. This has given me the confidence to make autonomous decisions now as a qualified midwife.

How useful did you find your clinical placements?

The midwifery-specific hospital and community-based placements were invaluable as they provided me with the opportunities to learn and practice clinical skills necessary to be a competent midwife. I also completed other placements which focused on other aspects of women's health, such as gynaecology, physiotherapy, urology, colposcopy and breast imaging. These placements were beneficial as they increased my awareness of other services women may encounter and conditions which could impact their pregnancy and maternity care.

Did you participate in any extra-curricular activities (such as clubs, societies) that provided skills that you have used since finishing your course?

I was part of the street dance society and was also involved in Student Union’s course representative system, as I was the Academic President of Midwifery during my second year. Being part of a society and through my role as Academic President I was able to improve my interpersonal and communication skills by engaging with students on other courses and with a range of University staff. Since leaving University and starting work, I am able to ensure I am approachable and communicate effectively with the range of people I encounter.

What is your current profession?

I am a Midwife working on a central delivery suite, in addition to both antenatal and postnatal wards, in a hospital.

How do you feel that your course prepared you for employment?

Thanks to the integrated design of the course I felt very well prepared for working as a qualified midwife. The theoretical element provided me with the underpinning knowledge needed to practice safely and effectively, whilst the practical placements enabled me to develop and hone clinical skills essential to midwifery.

Do you have any plans for your future career progression?

I have a keen interest in education and hope to continue learning by undertaking further study, either in the form of a Masters or PhD. I would like to uphold a clinical role whilst doing this as I think it is essential to maintain an understanding of clinical practice, allowing this to inform any research or further study I undertake.

What tips would you give to current students looking to start a career in your sector? What could they be doing now to make themselves more employable when they graduate?

It is important to demonstrate to prospective employers that you are a well-rounded individual with the personal characteristics necessary, as well as the qualification needed. Take every opportunity to be involved in different clubs and societies, or volunteering with a local organisation, to provide examples of how you can demonstrate the skills and characteristics they desire.

What advice would you give to a student starting their undergraduate study at Southampton?

Enjoy it! Time flies by so fast so make the most of all the opportunities whilst at the University of Southampton and what the city has to offer.

What are you most proud of?

I recently had an essay published in the British Journal of Midwifery which I submitted for a third year module assessment. It really showed me just how far I have come from my first day in first year, and all the fantastic teaching I received during my three years at Southampton.

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