Boo Charkin is studying MSc Enhanced Midwifery Care. She returned to City after completing her undergraduate course here. She has enjoyed the networking opportunities, and option to focus assignments on her particular areas of interest.
Can you tell us a bit about your experiences and career before applying to this course?
I am a mature student doing this master’s degree in my forties. I work as a Midwife in Homerton University Hospital NHS Trust in East London. I work part-time and I am undertaking the master’s part-time which works well for me but obviously takes a bit longer.
For my first degree I studied Mathematics with Management Studies and then qualified as a chartered accountant and worked in charities as a Finance Manager. After having 3 children, I decided to retrain as a Midwife which was a very big change! So, I undertook a second degree in Midwifery at City, University of London and achieved a first class honours. I have been working as a midwife since I qualified in 2016. It is hard work but rewarding.
What motivated you to apply for this course?
After practicing as a midwife for a few years I realised that I missed the academic side of midwifery, exploring theoretical concepts and critically analysing midwifery care and the wider context in which I was practicing. So, I decided to return to City to do a master’s degree.
Why did you choose City?
I had completed my undergraduate Midwifery degree at City and had really enjoyed my experience so I knew I wanted to go back there for my master’s degree. I also really like the location and it felt familiar in terms of the campus, library, IT systems etc so was less of a transition for me.
Some of the lecturers who teach on the master’s programme also do research within the Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research at City so there was always lots of interesting new research to explore and discuss.
Were there any challenges affecting your decision to study a postgraduate degree? If so, how did you overcome them?
I had to seriously consider the time commitment before I applied for the master’s degree. I was already working part-time but I dropped my hours further to accommodate my studies and then there are lots of assignments and deadlines and reading to be done which has an impact on the time I can spend with my family. But overall it was worth it.
How are you funding your studies – did you secure any financial support?
There is obviously a cost implication to undertaking a master’s programme. I got a 10% discount for being a graduate of City, University of London and also applied for a scholarship of £1,500, which I was awarded, so that helped. But I still had to self-fund the rest, my employer did not help with that.
What has been your favourite aspect of the course?
Exploring theoretical and applied concepts with the lecturers and other students is one of my favourite aspects of the course. Everyone brings different experience to the course and it gives you a much broader perspective. I also enjoy the opportunity to choose topics that I am particularly interested in for the assignments. I did assignments on induction of labour and home birth which are two areas where I really wanted to explore and challenge the status quo.
What opportunities and experiences has City offered you?
Networking with the lecturers and other students is a great opportunity. I met people who I could get in contact with about a work issue or who I might come across at a conference later, just being surrounded by other people who are passionate about midwifery and interested in the academic side of it was really engaging.
For my final dissertation I have had the opportunity to undertake some primary research as part of a wider study with some really experienced and prominent researchers in the field which is a fantastic experience.
What does a typical week at university look like for you?
I undertook the master’s degree on a part-time basis which means I had two years to complete 7 modules and then a further year to complete the dissertation. The modules varied in their teaching structure so sometimes a module would consist of one full week on campus/online and then self-directed study; other modules were spread over a term with one day a week on campus/online. Usually I would only be doing one module per term so this time commitment is very manageable but I needed to be quite disciplined about the self-directed study. Each module then had a written assignment which could be an essay, a proposal, a short answer paper etc.
Two of the modules are elective which means you can choose them from a selection of courses offered within the School of Health and Psychological Sciences, which was a great opportunity to study some wider topics, for example I chose epidemiology for one of my elective modules.
What knowledge and skills has your course helped you develop?
The master’s degree has been a great opportunity to learn more about research and I feel like I have started to develop those skills so that if I decide research is an area I would like to work in, I would be able to.
It has also helped hone my analytical skills. As a practicing midwife it is so important to keep challenging the care and advice we provide to women, to make sure that it is evidence-based and that we can help women to make truly informed decisions, and I feel that this course helped me to be able to do that more.
What are your career plans and how has City equipped you for them?
I hope to continue practicing as a midwife but there are many different routes that a midwifery career can take and I feel like a master’s degree is an important tool for many of them. It will be really useful if I decide to go into research or teaching. It is also desirable, or probably actually necessary, if I wanted to move into senior management within the NHS. I am actually currently specialising in infant feeding and undertaking an International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants course and the master’s level study has helped me with that too.
What advice would you give to someone considering this course?
I would say have a look at the course content and make sure you are interested enough. The course would be hard to complete if you weren’t passionate about the subject matter. Make sure this is the right time for you be undertaking studies – will it fit with you other commitments? Would it be better to do it part-time or full-time? But overall, I would say it is well worth doing and you will definitely gain some amazing knowledge and experience, and it will look very good on your CV!
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