Student spotlight: How to prepare for midwifery school

Happy Monday! I am coming off a weekend of working 48 hours on the labor and delivery deck and I am TIRED. My mamas this weekend did outstanding and we had some really amazing births. The tiredness is totally worth it! Onto today’s post…

Over the past few weeks, the student spotlights have been wildly popular on the instagram and on the blog. I’m happy to share my tips (most of them I learned the hard way, learned from someone else, or read/listened too!). Today, let’s chat about preparing for midwifery school. Maybe, you’ve already been accepted and you are starting next semester. Maybe, midwifery is a dream that you can’t wait to embark on, but the timings not right. Or maybe, you’re in midwifery school now and you just want to sharpen those skills even more! Then read on friends and let me know what you think of the tips!

Learn how to write well.

Oh, please, please, please take this one to heart. Mastering writing will overflow into every area of your life. There are papers to write in midwifery school (really, in all graduate programs) and papers to write afterwards. In your career, you’ll write protocols, proposals, articles and author presentations. Start practicing now and don’t ever stop. Not sure where to start? Start a journal. Even just writing a little bit each day makes the skill a habit…habits become muscle memory…and muscle memory makes everything flow a little bit easier! Bonus – the reflection will give you a lot of insight into these other tips…

Learn how to manage time.

Time management as a midwifery student doesn’t get any harder than maybe someone who is in medical school or law school. Being awake in the middle of the night is hard. And if you don’t have your week(s) planned out well, you’ll find that things pile up on top of you quickly. My tips are really simple here: get a calendar; keep a to-do list that is maintained daily; limit distractions when you need to work. I personally love Google’s calendar and Google Keep or Google Tasks. They both flow into the calendar seamlessly. I like this because I can put something on my to do list for next Monday or around a due date, and not have to worry about it until next Monday! The other thing to think about is a call schedule when you are a midwife. Often times you are awake in the middle of the night and the days and night run together…having a good system for your schedule makes everything a little easier when you can’t remember what day of the week it is!

Practice (or learn) self-care.

Do you take care of yourself and your mental health? If your answer is no, now’s the time to learn. I’ve said this many time before: midwifery is a hard trade to learn. It continues to be a hard trade to practice and in my opinion, our population of women giving birth is only becoming more high risk. Whatever it is that refills your soul after a long day or hard week (or hard month), make time for those moments or activities. It could be a long bubble bath with a good read and a lovely glass of red wine. It could be catching up with an old friend or your sister. It could be quilting, running, hiking, painting….anything. Know what refills your cup when you’re down to the last drop.

Practice (or learn) grace – for yourself and others.

Full disclosure: sometimes I walk off the labor and delivery unit and I think: “I’m not sure if I did anything right today.” That is a terrible thought. Despite doing all the best interventions, sometimes a birth isn’t picture perfect. At the end of birth, the goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mama. But the process isn’t always smooth sailing. Those are the days you must practice grace; forgive the thoughts that focus on negativity; renew with a bubble bath and some good sleep; and stand again to face the next day. Grace is such an important thing to give to others and to give to ourselves. If you don’t feel like you practice grace now, start today. Once you’re in midwifery school, you’ll feel like a newborn horse walking for the first time – you have legs but they’re awfully wobbly! A good preceptor guides you through those first steps until you can gallop – but you’ll still need grace for the rest of your career.

Read every day (and read some midwifery books…)

Oh reading. You guys know that I am an avid reader. Reading stimulates your brain in ways other activities can’t. There is so much good information in the world that is only obtained in books or magazines. Additionally, 98% of women get their information about pregnancy and birth from the Internet. It’s good to know what books are out there about birth – and which ones to recommend (or not recommend!).

Don’t know where to start reading? Check out the BOOKS page – you can’t go wrong! My favorites are italicized on the page and I must recommend 5 books a week to people. I just wish I had a little more time to read…

Get your resume up to date.

Yes. Your resume. Believe it or not, most programs actually have you update your resume as part of an assignment these days! If your program doesn’t, they should. I personally didn’t apply for jobs at the end of my midwifery program because I already had a job lined up – but my students are interviewing as soon as they start clinicals! Before you interview, you’re going to need a resume. Want to apply for a scholarship? There’s a good chance they’ll want a resume. Even after you are hired, I recommend reviewing or updating your resume every year. You would be surprised at what needs to be changed. When your dream job knocks, you want to have that resume at the ready! Get started on it today.

Start networking (or learn how to network).

My husband likes to say it this way: “It’s who you know.” And in midwifery, it really is who you know. I keep track of my midwifery friends across the world because I want to know what cool things they are a part of, what their jobs are like, and, if I am anticipating a move soon, what kind of job opportunities are in their practice or city. One of my favorite podcasts out there on the stories of midwives, their jobs and their journeys is Journey to Midwifery. If you don’t know any midwives in your community, now’s the time to meet them. Go to a practice and ask to take one of them to lunch – ask them about their story, their journey and what their practice is like. A lunch for two will cost you less than $40, but the information you’ll get is worth thousands of dollars more. Are you a member of the midwifery organizations? Now’s the time to join. Are you a member of community groups for breastfeeding or birth? Now’s the time to research the groups near you! Are you terrified of public speaking and you don’t know where to start? Check out Toastmasters – you’ll be a pro at public speaking and networking in no time. Last bit of advice – once you start networking, don’t stop. These are the people you want to send a holiday card, or meet up at a conference, or make a friendly call every few months to see how they’re doing. Those little acts add up to a job opportunity or a business opportunity that you never thought possible.

Set goals for school.

This one seems basic; you’re going to midwifery school – success and graduation are your main goals. But there are many goals that lie between the start and the finish line. One example might be that you want to learn how to manage infertility. By letting your faculty know this is important, they can help seek out a site that gives you that experience. Alternatively, if you have to seek out your own site and you know this is one of your goals, it makes your search for a preceptor more focused. For example, do you want infertility training, Nexplanon training, ultrasound training, breech experience, out of hospital birth, GYN experience, etc….Know where your passions are and try to tailor your preceptors, clinics or birth settings to your goals. If you don’t know what you goals are, start exploring scopes of practice and think about what kind of skills you want to have in your practice. Look into conferences each year and see what skills workshops they offer! The sky’s the limit.

Read the scope of practice for a midwife in your state (or state you plan to practice in!)

I genuinely hope that reading your nurse practice act was an assignment in school for some people. It’s an excellent habit and a good reminder of the value your license holds as a nurse. Even better, start reading the practice acts or laws that govern midwifery in the state you want to attend school or practice in. How do the laws differ? How are they the same? How can you help bridge the gap? You’ll find a wide variety across the 50 states and also a great need to improve autonomy across the board.

Think about expectations.

“None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love this quote by Emerson. There’s something that happens when you sit in silence and wonder. Let you mind take you down all the rabbit holes…where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Write down those ideas and then stew on them for a while. Think about what seeds you want to plant and which ones you really want to see grow. Align your goals in midwifery school with these expectations and revisit your goals annually.

I think that’s all for the advice on preparation for midwifery school! I could talk all day on this topic but I want to hear what you all think too! What are your thoughts on how to prepare for midwifery school? What advice did you receive that was helpful (or not helpful)? What are your goals?

Love the student spotlights? Check out these:

Have a great week!

Jamie

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