What skills a locum midwife requires
If you want to be a locum, you MUST be adaptable, willing to think quickly on your feet, confident, a good communicator, self-organised and autonomous. I would also add "experienced" to that list because if you do not have a rounded midwifery experience, it can be difficult to adapt to the ever-changing situations you find yourself in as a locum. You need to be able to build rapport very quickly with the people you work with - it's no good feeling shy - you've got to be prepared to get stuck in very quickly.
What I learned from being a locum
There were four main things that struck me about being a locum.
- It is really important you know what to do when there is an emergency..who to call....where the emergency equipment is...what the emergency policies are. It didn't matter to me if I got a 'routine' thing wrong because that could be sorted another time. But it was vital that I could handle an emergency eg I knew how the resuscitation equipment worked and who to call in the secondary hospital if I needed medical advice or back-up.
- I practiced in a far more conservative way than I would if I was working with women I knew well. There were two particular cases when I noticed that about my behavior. The first instance was when I transferred a baby to the secondary hospital. If I had been on my own turf I would have monitored the baby overnight, but because I was new to the staff etc, I transferred the baby. The other example was when I drove a very long distance to check on a lady who couldn't get to me. I knew it was probably a waste of time, but I didn't want to take the chance that something was amiss. If I had known the woman, I am sure I would have told her to come and see me when she could in the next couple of days.
- The locum does not have the same relationship with a woman as her regular midwife. This was brought home to me because a woman complained that I did not write her notes in the same lovely personal way that her previous midwife had done. To be fair to me, it would have been difficult to write in the same way as a midwife who had known her for months. But it is something I have taken on board for next time - to be more friendly and less clinical in my writing.
- It is really important to have a detailed briefing session and get organized before you start work. This reduces the necessity for having to go back to people with questions very five minutes.
- Have a pre-arranged list of questions so I am better prepared eg where policies are kept, emergency procedures, who to ask for help.....
- Take time to organize myself how I like to be organized before I start work eg take my own equipment that I am familiar with?
- Things are more likely to go awry because I am not so familiar with things, so will pay particular attention to documentation to ensure I have well and truly explained my actions and justification.
Image: View from the antenatal clinic at Te Anau