Spectacular Student – Jodie Melville

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Jodie Melville is a third year student midwife who has given a wonderful interview to kickstart my Spectacular Student Midwife series! I will also be starting a ‘Marvellous Midwives’ series with interviews from some of the most inspiring midwives around the country.

1.Tell me a bit about you, where you are from and what year you are in.

Hiya! My name is Jodie, and I am currently a third year student midwife at Canterbury Christ Church University. 

2. Why did you decide you wanted to become a midwife?

This is the question in which I really wish I had an amazing story I could share! So many people have amazing stories of having their own children, or having the privilege of being birth partners – and I love hearing these so much. I had always known I have wanted to work in healthcare, and I worked as an HCA in a nursing home for a number of years and loved caring for the residents and supporting their families, but midwifery was always there. I have absolutely no regrets, midwifery is more incredible than I ever could have imagined!

3. How was the admissions process? Did you do any preparation before you applied? What was the process for writing a personal statement like?

Writing a personal statement was really hard, I wanted it to be perfect – I must have proof-read it hundreds of times. Luckily my college lecturers were really supportive and helped me to tweak bits here and there. College staff were also really supportive with the UCAS process – so if you have that option available definitely use it. I also spoke to the individual universities admission teams which was really helpful to clarify application deadlines, funding etc.

I was also able to attend a number of maternity unit open days and summer conferences before applying to universities – this really benefited my application and evidenced my interest and dedication to learning more about midwifery practice. As interviews drew closer I kept myself up-to-date with the latest maternity related news as this helped to keep me informed, but it also gave me a lot of talking material at interviews.

I chose to apply to universities close to home due to having a long-term partner, who I wanted to be able to see regularly. I applied to five universities and received interview offers for all. I interviewed for my first choice university, King’s College, on a Monday and then my second choice, Christ Church, on the Tuesday. When I got home after my Tuesday interview I received an email from King’s to say that they had offered me a place, without knowing the outcome of my CCCU interview. With that I, rather impulsively, withdrew my applications from all the other universities and accepted the offer. 

Come September I moved to London to start at King’s, however, despite only having an hour long train journey home, I found myself really lonely and missing being at home with my partner (and our cat of course). I made the tough decision to move home, and contacted CCCU to explain my situation and enquire as to any available places on the course. All the stars seemed to have aligned and luckily one place had just become available and they offered it to me as I had a successful interview with them – I couldn’t believe my luck. I am so happy with how everything worked out, and I can honestly say I have no regrets. It’s a very personal choice – deciding whether or not to move away to uni – if you are in a position to do so. My advice would be just to really think it through and evaluate your options: go visit the universities, talk to family and friends, do what’s right for you.

4. What has been the highlight of your time so far?

The highlight of my time as a student midwife so far was my last placement block on our MLU. As a third year I feel like all the pieces are finally starting to fit in place, and I am starting to find my confidence and am finally becoming the midwife I have always aspired to be. As quite a nervous person, early in the course I would look at senior students and think “they’re so capable, I’m never going to be like that”, but I’m finally getting there! Being able to be that primary support for a woman and her partner, and helping to facilitate the birth they want is the most rewarding thing. It provides you with such a sense of pride and accomplishment that I can’t even begin to describe. I left every shift buzzing from all the amazing things I had seen and been a part of each shift.

5. What have you not liked so much?

Juggling the academic work and placement has been a struggle at times, as I’m not always the best at prioritising my time. However this is something I am continually working on. I have found that allocating set study sessions and goals help to keep me focused and motivated. 

Self-doubt and feeling like an imposter when on placement has often been difficult.I have this constant worry that I am not good enough or that I don’t know enough, which has sometimes made it difficult for me to show my full capability – out of fear of being wrong. This worry has gotten much better since the start of the course as I have gained more experience but there are definitely shifts where it feels like my very first shift all over again.

6. Tell me 3 qualities that make an excellent midwife

  1. “Listen to hear not to respond” – I don’t know who said this originally but it’s so appropriate. Sometimes all women need to feel safe and respected is to feel properly listened to.

2)  Patience, even on a busy shift when you’re rushed off your feet. Spending just a couple extra minutes supporting a woman to adjust a baby’s latch, or showing a new dad how to change a nappy can make a world of difference to their experience.

3) Kindness. It is so important to treat everybody with kindness, regardless of their circumstance or your own personal opinions. Everybody has the right to be treated well. 

7. What are your plans for when you qualify? Do you have any specific interests?

The idea of qualifying is both terrifying and exciting – as I’m sure many of my predecessors can vouch! Community midwifery has always had my heart, I love the continuity of seeing women in clinics and building a rapport. Being able to see them at home afterwards, and hearing their birth stories always makes my heart so full. So that’s something I’m really looking forward to. 

Another area I’m particularly interested in is safeguarding/supportive midwifery specialist teams. As a foster care leaver, and the child of a teen mother I would love to learn more about the support available to vulnerable women and families, so that I can better support the women I care for. There is a really excellent midwifery safeguarding team at the trust I practice in, and I would love to do some work with them in the future.

8. What is the workload like, really?

It is tough at times, and there’s no point in sugarcoating and denying it. There are shifts where you don’t get round to eating your lunch until 10 hours into your 12 hour shift – or even not at all! Sometimes everything happens all at once, and then you have to spend an eternity sorting out the paperwork trail once calm has been restored. Although it can be challenging and exhausting, it is all so worth it. Just take each shift as it comes and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

It’s so important to remember that as a student, and even once qualified, your colleagues and team are always there to support you. Your course friends/fellow student midwives, are the best support you could possibly ever want – especially after a long, hard shift as they understand exactly how you’re feeling.

9. Do you have any interesting placement stories that stand out? Remember to keep everything confidential, don’t name the hospital, staff or clients.

The first birth I helped to facilitate made me so emotional (which wasn’t difficult as I’m fairly emotional anyway), it was such a beautiful birth and I had built a really good rapport with the couple I had been looking after – I couldn’t have asked for a better first hands-on experience. After the delivery I did shed a tear or two, and I kepting wiping my wipes on the sleeves of my white tunic due to having gloves on. It wasn’t until we were all cleared up that the woman pointed out that my once white sleeves were now orange and black where my foundation and mascara had wiped off. We all found it quite hilarious, and even more so when they saw my reaction to my reflection with huge mascara streaks and panda eyes. 

9. Give me a few random facts about yourself!

As a child I really wanted to be a pathologist – I would run around collecting gross, random stuff and stick it under a microscope.

I am an adult volunteer with the Sea Cadets, where I help teach young people nautical based curriculum, water sports, team building and leadership skills.

I am a member of my universities MidSoc, and my role is the Lucy Bannister Fund Coordinator. The fund was set up in memory of Lucy Bannister, a CCCU student midwife who sadly passed away, and offers financial support to CCCU student midwives who need it for reasons such as financial hardship, travel costs and buying university materials e.g. course books.

10. What tips do you have for any prospective student midwives?

Be bold, be brave and believe in yourself – you are more capable than you would ever believe.

Don’t give up on something you have worked so hard for. Midwifery is a really competitive course, and it’s not uncommon to not get a place on your first application. This isn’t a reflection of how good you will be as a student midwife/midwife – keep going, you’ll be so glad you did!

Say yes to experiences offered to you when you start the course, even if you’re nervous. There are so many things I wished I had said yes to when I was first offered, even small things like taking blood and handing over, not just because it’s good to practice these skills but also because as I kept putting these things off it just built it up and made it more scary in my head. Your mentor is always there to support you if you need it.

People say it all the time, but it’s true: no question is a silly question. If you don’t ask you don’t know. I often warn my mentors that I ask tonnes of questions, more often than not they’re quite happy to answer – and if they are ‘silly’ at least you can laugh about it together afterwards.

Follow Jodie on Instagram @jodiemelville

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