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The University of Southampton
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Holly Smith Midwifery, year 2

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There is no doubt that placement is the highlight of the midwifery course. The lectures at this university are excellent but the women and midwives you meet along the way are gold standard. The impact you make on women’s lives can be incredible.

What made you choose to come to study at Southampton?

It was not an easy path getting in to university. It took me two years of UCAS to get into university, and it happened to be the second year that I decided to look at universities closer to my home in the New Forest. I decided to go for Southampton but never expected to be given a place. I didn’t visit for an Open Day because I was so sure that I wouldn’t get in so I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but nearly three years later here I am.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences) so far?

There is no doubt that placement is the highlight of the midwifery course. The lectures at this university are excellent but the women and midwives you meet along the way are gold standard. The impact you make on women’s lives can be incredible, and the mark they make on you can stay forever.

What opportunities have you taken up (within your degree programme and extra-curricular)? In what ways are they helping your personal development?

I have taken part in the pottery club, which is brilliant therapy if you have a stressful day (go pummel some clay.). I have taken part in the NAMSOC netball club and have also been part of the society as the Midwifery Rep. I have also taken part in Sexpression, which is about teaching young people about safe sex and relationships. In my third year I will be the Coordinator of this society and I look forward to aiding other university members to teach more young people. Although sometimes difficult it’s amazing how much you can find yourself doing at university, and it’s also important to remember that a night in with the girls, pizza and chocolate is just as much fun as a night out.

Have you had any exposure to employer involvement or research led learning during your course? How will this help you achieve your ambition?

Midwifery is all about getting stuck in where the action happens. This is not, what most people assume, to be ‘delivering babies’. Midwives do not deliver babies as if they were a postman; rather we aid women and support them through the antenatal, labour and post-natal period. We are responsible for so much of a woman’s care that is it important to remember that when you start this degree you are not here to catch babies, but rather to educate and care for women at all stages of their pregnancy. We are the key coordinators of women’s care during pregnancy and liaise with doctors as and when they are needed. It’s all about the confidence you have in yourself to stand up for your woman’s wishes and support her in the safest and best way possible.

What are you enjoying most about your course?

Sometimes I sit back and think about my role. I have realised that what I see every day is truly incredible and the rarest opportunity that there is to see: women bringing a small little life in to the world. I know this can sound as if it is meant to be poetic, but when you really think about it, what could I enjoy more on this course than holding hands with a labouring woman, reminding her how incredibly strong she is and watch her birth her baby. This is the best job in the world, no questions asked, no second thoughts.

Do you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area, and how do you think they are adding to your experience / will affect your future plans?

We are always encouraged to visit days put on by other Trusts and take study days when we can. Being a student midwife is all about learning like a midwife, so it’s encouraging to see that we are invited to most midwifery seminars to sit with our peers and midwives to learn together about different aspects of our role.

I had the great opportunity last year to visit the Royal College of Midwives conference with a friend. This was a two day conference to explore the future of midwifery and see where we are now. There was even time to debate with Edwina Curry.

What networking, employment and work experience opportunities have you undertaken and how have they enhanced your undergraduate experience?

I have the unique chance this year with the help of a grant I received to visit Thailand and learn about their care of women and how they practice midwifery. This will no doubt be a very eye-opening experience for me.

Do you have any idea of what you would like to do in the future? Have the opportunities you have taken up while at the University helped you have a clearer idea of what you might like to do?

Be a midwife. Nothing more, and nothing less.

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