I feel incredibly privileged to have been part of the first ever student leadership programme so generously organised and facilitated by the Council of Deans. This course has made me grow in confidence as a leader, and encouraged me to seek new opportunities to represent and support fellow student midwives, both at my university and my hospital. I will highlight a few of my best moments of the programme below:
1) I was lucky enough to be one of the three students from the programme who were able to attend the annual Council of Deans conference, this year held at the Marriot in Bristol. Despite being surrounded by impressive Deans, we immediately felt welcomed and included, from all the introductions made to us by Council members, to the efforts to ask our opinions during the table discussions during the day. The first speaker was Baroness Mary Watkins who gave very interesting insights into the new Nursing Associate positions we have seen in the media recently, and her own views on Brexit and other current issues facing the healthcare profession.
I was interested by her views on the role new research can play in shaping the future of the nursing and allied health professions, especially regarding the weight she put on research formulated by nurses working with doctors and other health professionals, which she argued would hold a larger impact through its diverse array of participants. This has encouraged me to invest in colleague relationships with the doctors, consultants and midwifery support workers at my hospital, relationships I can see benefitting both my enjoyment of my work, and advancing the care of the women as a collaborative team works much better than a fragmented one!
2) My second highlight was my first meeting with my assigned mentor, Carmel Lloyd, head of Education and Development at the RCM. Carmel told me about her journey to such a prestigious position at the RCM, where she designs policy and supports midwives across the nation. I learned so much from her which I can now apply to the beginnings of my career as a midwife, such as taking every opportunity which comes your way and trying to really know your capabilities and develop your weaknesses to become a stronger individual.
Having read my statement Carmel saw that I am interested in working abroad and set up a meeting with Joy Kemp, the global professional advisor at the RCM. She spoke to me of her recent work in Uganda and her next plans for development in other countries the RCM has links with. This inspired me to pursue my idea of working internationally and gave me a taster of what that work might entail.
3) Finally, the second student leadership conference held in London recently gave me such great ideas as to the ‘what next’ question which arises off the back if the programme. What should I now do with all this newfound knowledge and anticipation for the future? My favourite part of the day was a panel discussion involving representatives from the Florence Nightingale Foundation, Public Health England and the RCM amongst other organisations. What really stood out for me was the courage these people had when faced with challenges and difficult jobs. One of the panel said that they never applied for a job unless they could do ‘more than 70% of it’, based on the idea that being stretched and facing challenges should be regarded as exciting, and not something that probably fills most people with dread!
Overall this programme has been immensely useful in establishing not only a huge excitement I now hold for my future as a midwife, but also gave me some new friends who have dreams just as big as mine, giving me a community of people from all different healthcare professions to support be through my career.
Rosie Jenks, Midwifery Student at the University of West London