Yesterday, I talked a little about how to manage your academic studies. Today, I'd like to leave you with just a few tips for managing your learning in the clinical setting, in no particular order of importance or relevance.
1. Look after your physical self. In particular, take care of your back.
I have written about this before because I know a significant number of 'older' midwives whose quality of life at work and outside is severely affected by back injury. Do not lift women without the proper equipment and training. Make sure that any bending over a sustained time is done in an ergonomic way.
Make sure you have plenty of food and drink to keep you going, especially at long births.
When you are attending a woman who is having a long labour, make sure you have regular breaks even if the midwife isn't. What she does is her call - you will not be able to function properly if you are overly tired.
2. Pay attention to your appearance.
Wear light, cool clothes when you work with women in labour - it gets very hot in hospital birthing rooms. If you wear mufti, keep the g-strings and skimpy tops at home. They look unprofessional and are distracting to those you work with, colleagues and families.
3. Be prepared for the theory-practice gap.
After ten years of being a midwifery educator and post-registration student for 16 years, I still am hearing examples of midwives working in a way that is not evidence-based. I do not want to go into the reasons why, in this post - maybe another time. However, you must be prepared for this. Don't ever stop questioning and leading by example - one of the main drivers behind my move to evidence-based practice was by watching and listening to student midwives.
4. Do not ignore the 'old battle axes' who seem to have been around for ever - I think I am probably in that category now!
I can think of a number of midwives I have met over the years who would fit that category. Sometimes these midwives can be darn-right scary, but invariably they have amazing experiences and stories to learn from. They are great people to learn 'tricks of the trade' from.
5. Make the most of all learning opportunities, both positive and not so positive.
Be enthusiastic and interested. Question, but do not be arrogant or critical. Be respectful and non-judgmental, of colleagues and families.
6. Make use of the support structures that are put in place by your educational institution. Being able to reflect on your experiences and learning away from the clinical environment is an important part of the learning process.
7. HAVE FUN!
I could go on and on about this but will stop there. What do you think about these tips? Are they fair comments or am I barking up the wrong tree? What tips or comments would you add?
If you are a non-midwife/student, what would you see as being important for a student to consider if she was working with you and your family?