One of the big issues for midwives (and any health professional for that matter) is how to keep current with clinical practice when you doing doing another full time job such as being a lecturer or researcher.
Walking the talk
On the one hand, it is vital to stay up to date and confident about clinical practice, especially when you are teaching it. I think students really respect their teachers when they see them 'walking the talk'. On the other hand, when do I fit it all in on top of my teaching, research, writing for publication, PhD studies...and, right at the bottom of the list, being a wife, mother and having a life!
There's no doubt that teaching keeps you up to date. In a lot of ways, I am probably more up to date that the average midwife, because perusing journals and reading research is part of my job. The students also keep me very grounded - I live vicariously through them. I teach clinical skills, so I do not feel I am lacking in competence. And, I have been a midwife for many years, so I do not feel I need particular experience. But having not worked in the clinical context for a while, it will be great to emerse myself in midwifery again and re-vitalize my love of working with women and their families.
The other thing that is driving this is that I have to do some clinical work next year in order to keep my practicing certificate, which I need to be able to teach.
Where, what and how?
I think the easiest way to manage this will be to take some time out and work in a maternity unit somewhere. I will be able to take two weeks from lecturing, and maybe even longer.
I could work at my local maternity unit at Dunedin Hospital, but as it is a tertiary unit (dealing with a lot of complications) I would want to be supernumerary. The advantage of that is that I wouldn't have to leave home. But I am not sure how beneficial that would be for my learning. I know I'd end up doing nothing but care for women who are having cesarean sections, and I do not want to spend my precious two weeks doing that.
I am sure I could be a locum anywhere in the country because of midwife shortages. I'd be welcomed with open arms at rural units, such as Queenstown. I mean, what could beat working there, one of the most picturesque places in the world. But at the same time, it's been a while since I've worked in the clinical context, so I'd want to feel I had lots of support, not to be the only midwife for miles around.
Or, I could take off and do something completely different, like work a stint in Samoa or Rarotonga, or even go to Australia.
Best learning opportunities
I guess I need to decide what I want to achieve in regards to my learning and midwifery competence before I decide where to go and what to do. I am also very mindful of my back and do not want to aggravate it in a setting where I will have to do a lot of bending and lifting.
What I think I will do first is go through the Midwifery Standards Review Process and get my portfolio up to date. This will help me decide what my learning aims are and how to go about achieving them.
How do you keep current if you are a health professional who is a lecturer, researcher or manager? Should a certain amount of clinical practice be part of our job requirements?
Image: 'Queenstown, New Zealand' slack13