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Emma Spillane

Midwifery (Advanced Practice and Health Social Care) MSc

I chose to study at City, University of London because it had an excellent reputation for the Master’s course in advanced Midwifery practice.

Prior to starting the MSc in Advanced Midwifery Practice at City, University of London, I was practicing in a large London teaching hospital as the Lead Midwife for Birth Centre. I qualified as a midwife in 2011 from Surrey University and began my band 5 career at a local hospital on a rotational post working across all areas of maternity including community.  After a year I decided I needed to gain some further experience in high risk maternity care.  I was successful in a band 6 rotational post at the London hospital I am still currently working in.  After eighteen months I progressed to a band 7 position coordinating the busy delivery suite and soon after this I was appointed as the lead for Birth Centre where I have been working for the past four years.  I have also been working for the Breech Birth Network for the past two years as the Training Co-ordinator.  I teach Physiological Breech Birth both nationally and internationally, this role has made me want to undertake research in the field and therefore commencing a Master’s degree was a good starting point to help me get on the ladder on this pathway.

I have been involved in service change across the maternity unit during my time as a band 7 midwife which gave me greater insight into the operational aspects of the management role. I also worked closely with the consultant midwives and have had them mentoring me in the career pathway I decided to choose early on in my career.  I have been working towards a consultant midwife post in normality for some time and the service improvements I have been involved in have been associated with this role.  I also consulted with women who were requesting care outside of the guidelines, informing them of the benefits and limitations of such decisions and supporting them in their choices. Choosing the consultant midwife pathway was my man motivation for applying for this course.  To be able to apply for a senior post such as this it is essential to have your Master’s degree.

I chose to study at City, University of London because it had an excellent reputation for the Master’s course in advanced Midwifery practice.  This was the course I felt was most suitable to my career pathway and I knew others who were on the course who had rated it highly.  I also considered travelling to the University and ease of access as this is something which can have an effect on your attendance on the course.  It was not the easiest University for me to travel to, I live outside of London, but it was easy to reach from my place of work.  I also had a colleague and friend who had completed her PhD at City, University of London and had heard excellent feedback from them on the course and lecturers. All these factors enabled me to know this was the right University to commence my Master’s course.

The course has greatly helped me to develop both personally and professionally in a number of ways. Each module you undertake deepens your knowledge and understanding of different areas of Midwifery practice. It enables you to look more critically at the systems, research and clinical aspects of maternity care.  This enables you to challenge practices and systems within your area of work in a professional way using the evidence to assist you.  You become more mature in the way you see life itself both in the work setting and outside and improve the way in which you communicate concerns, challenges and objections.  When others in your area of work know you are completing a Master’s level of study, it seems they have a higher level of respect for your input and knowledge. Studying at this level opens up career opportunities which you may not have had otherwise as you are recognised as an expert in this field with advanced skills in not only the clinical area of your work but the operational and leadership aspects of your role too.

The main challenges that affected my decision about postgraduate study were the lack of support from the Trust I was working in.  This is due to the financial constraints the Trust is under and therefore funding for training has been extremely limited.  Self-funding the course is a huge financial commitment and one which should not be taken lightly.  I applied for a Student Finance Loan to help with the costs of the course, but I did not want to do this until I had finished paying off my loan from my previous study at BSc level.  This delayed my application on the course.  Another constraint is work itself, during my interview I was told it isn’t possible to complete the course whilst working full-time and I would agree that it is almost essential to reduce your working hours to be able to put every effort into the course. There is a lot of self-directed study which needs to be undertaken, this study is a vital part of ensuring you get everything out of the course and pass the assessments set on each module.  I was unable to reduce my working hours due to the financial implications this poses, it is something which should be thought about carefully before applying and ensuring you have support there for reducing your contracted hours at work to be able to fully commit to the course.

My plans for my future career once I have completed the course will be to pursue a consultant midwife pathway.  I will also go on to complete my PhD which is not something I thought I would ever be able to do prior to undertaking this course.  City, University of London and those who have taught and guided me through the course have instilled confidence and a keen interest in research to make me want to pursue this further after completion of my current course.

My advice to those thinking about studying on the Advanced Practice in Midwifery course is to ensure you give yourself the time and commit fully to the course, so you get the most out of it.  You will make some excellent friendships along the way and it will be a wonderful learning journey for you, it will enlighten you and make you critically view the systems in both a positive and career changing way.  I would highly recommend the course from the learning and modules offered but also from the support given throughout to help you achieve the best you can.

Emma Spillane
Midwife