Students of midwifery back to placements

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by George Clark

Practical placements for South Canterbury midwifery students are back under way this week following Covid-19 postponement.

One final year and 14 second-year midwifery students are due to go out into the community over the next few weeks, working alongside independent midwives with their caseload for five weeks.

Dr Glynnis Brook, acting HOD and health practice director at Ara Institute of Canterbury said the practice and support will be the same for all students, what is different will be the environment into which they are going.

“The clear message to students is that they could be asked to leave clinical placement at short notice if our Covid-19 situation changes – so there is a level of uncertainty,” she said.

“However, the learning opportunities are also real and present beyond the working in a pandemic.

“It gives the chance for trainee midwives to understand how organisations respond, their impact on people and their health and wellbeing (patients and colleagues), infection control, disease spread and public health focus.”

Dr Brook said Ara was excited to see the students back doing what they signed up to do.

“Many put themselves forward to support the response in any way they could and the sitting and watching it all unfold has been challenging for some. This said, they also appreciated the seriousness of the situation and the need for clear planning and appropriate resourcing to manage the crisis.”

Second-year midwifery student Claire Hargest said lockdown had been a double-edged sword for study habits.

“On one hand it has been a great focus to keep productive and learning. On the other hand, the extra demands of teaching my child via distance learning while trying to study for a major exam was really challenging,” she said.

“Like any working or studying mother trying to juggle workload with supporting schoolwork and raising a child, it was easier said than done.”

Ms Hargest praised Ara for their communication in a time of struggling.

“Ara’s experience from the Christchurch earthquake meant they were excellent and fast at adapting to change after a crisis. They understood the extra stress that students are under in extraordinary circumstances such as lockdown, thanks to previous experiences in Christchurch.”

She said the midwifery programme was delivered online before Covid-19 which helped in continuation of study.

“But we missed each other, our midwife preceptors, and the in person skills practice we receive from our tutor. We were taken off placement at the beginning of lockdown obviously, and I am looking forward to being out again in the community this week.”

Dr Brook praised the District Health Boards for their work and reacceptance of students.

“Especially the South Canterbury DHB, as well as the Canterbury DHB, West Coast DHB and Nelson Marlborough DHB for welcoming students back when they are still focused on the pandemic and the potential implications at Level 2. It attests to the strong partnership built over many years and a workforce development approach established between the DHBs and Ara.”

For some student midwives, specifically third years, Covid-19 and the time away from placements may push back their registration by a month or six weeks.