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The University of Southampton
Health SciencesPostgraduate study

Kate Ashforth MSc Midwifery 2018

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Hi, I'm Kate Ashforth and I studied MSc Midwifery at the University of Southampton.

I have felt well-supported by lecturers throughout my course, who have encouraged me to submit papers for publication in midwifery journals and to speak at the European Midwifery Association Conference in London.

Why did you to choose to study MSc Midwifery at Southampton?

I originally applied because of the excellent reputation of the University, and when I attended the interview I fell in love with the campus and the members of the lecturing team that welcomed us. Everyone was so friendly and the interview itself seemed to focus on recruiting the right type of people, with the aim of teaching us the skills we required throughout the course to become midwives.

Were you apprehensive or excited about anything in particular before coming to Southampton?

I was nervous about studying at MSc level, particularly as I had completed my degree almost a decade before. I was also worried about commuting, juggling academic, clinical placement and childcare commitments. I was looking forward to studying again and to working as a student midwife in a busy NHS trust that incorporated a variety of settings, including busy labour ward and two birth centre settings

Once at Southampton, how were your expectations met or fears overcome?

Being a small cohort of students, we got to know each other well and had a very strong bond. We were supported by a small team of midwifery lecturers, which means that they knew each of us and our own individual goals and hopes. The students, lecturers and midwives formed an excellent team and we worked together to make sure we all got to graduation being the best midwives we can be.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

I particularly enjoyed the decision-making and caseloading module as it enabled me to combine theory and practice, and caused me to reflect on my own practice. It was a module that solidified my commitment to woman-centred midwifery care, as did my final project which gave me the opportunity to interview women using the maternity services. The final project improved my knowledge of research methods and it allowed me to work closely with my project supervisor to develop my knowledge of caring for women in early labour.

Throughout the course I was academic representative and academic president for midwifery, which allowed me to liaise between staff and students. I enjoyed making a positive contribution to student experiences of the course and practice placements, and through meetings I met the lay person who sat on midwifery committees. I worked with her to organise my own Multiple Birth study day as part of my elective module, and I also attended a focus group to discuss mental health in multiple pregnancy and develop resources for women needing mental health input.

I felt well-supported by lecturers throughout my course, who have encouraged me to submit papers for publication in midwifery journals and to speak at  the European Midwifery Association Conference in London during my second year. There have been plenty of  opportunities to engage in study days and meet midwives and lecturers from other trusts and universities, and the department really value and encourage their students to think outside the box.

What has it been like studying here and what have you found to be the greatest challenges?

Studying at Southampton exceeded expectations. I have been very well-supported by lecturers within the midwifery team, and have been privileged in working with excellent mentors and midwives within the trust. A small group of students in our cohort, of which I was part, created the university's first Midwifery Society (MidSoc), which is going from strength to strength and encourages cohesion across the various groups of students.

What do you think about the study facilities at the University?

I was a member of the University gym, which was always clean and well-staffed. The library facilities were ample, and staff were always friendly and keen to assist in finding journals or books that were not immediately available.

What advice would you give to a student starting their Masters degree at Southampton?

I would advise students to consider why they want to be a midwife, and to hold that close to them throughout their training. It is a hard course and a clear focus and reason for studying gives you a useful purpose when you have a difficult day. I think it is important to be prepared to work hard both in university and during placement, and that you need to have your home life organised in terms of childcare and commuting. Ultimately, I would encourage students to enjoy their time at university and to make the most of all the opportunities they have.

Tell us about the next steps in your Midwifery career. 

I am working as a newly-qualified midwife at the University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. I have an antenatal clinic in the team I trained in, which is brilliant as I am working alongside a team of excellent midwives who are also now friends. They understand the realities of being a new midwife, and are there when I need them to help. By the end of my first year as a midwife, I will have spent six months working in the midwifery-led pathway and six months working in the obstetric-led pathway. The programme for new midwives enables us to gain experience in an array of clinical settings and to improve our confidence in these areas.

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