Claire Worthington CO05
Claire began her virtual talk on Wednesday 9 December by explaining what a midwife is and what that means in terms of the care that she gives in her role. There are a number of specialist roles in midwifery which allow midwives to streamline their career into various ways of caring such as within diabetes care, supporting breastfeeding, providing ultrasounds, measuring carbon dioxide levels, caring for patients with mental health issues, safeguarding or clinical governance.
But why shouldn’t you be a midwife? Claire also took time to explain that the role is not for everyone. There are long working shifts that occupy weekends and evenings leaving your free time to be during more unsociable hours. Medically you are dealing with bodily fluids at very close contact during labours and on top of that it is incredibly emotional caring for women at a vulnerable time in her life. Every midwife should consider the fact that whilst mostly birth is extremely safe and you are able to witness many happy families, there are stillborn babies and complications which can arise.
Claire attended Truro School from 1998-2005 before attending the University of Surrey and working as a clinical midwife for three years following graduation. Additional qualifications since then have meant that Claire was soon able to examine newborn babies and to train new midwives, whilst also becoming a union representative for the Royal College of Midwives. She went back to university in 2016 to obtain a Masters from University of Surrey. She now manages the children and women’s health unit at her hospital and is undertaking a diploma in patient safety with the University of Edinburgh alongside. She also works as an advisor to the Care Quality Commission which enables her to help her hospital trust prepare for inspections. Claire’s main specialist area is now clinical governance, therefore she is responsible for listening to how well services are running and providing recommendations.
Students interested in a career in midwifery were able to discover how the field coped during the Covid-19 restrictions this year. Claire explained that weekly recommendations from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists were sent through to all midwife units providing updates, some even twice a week. Whilst this meant an extra responsibility to keep on top of recommendations – the frequent guidance was welcomed. Services were also moved around – e.g. the outpatient ward in her local hospital became a maternity service unit and they tried to reduce number of in-hospital appointments as much as possible to keep women safe at home. One success was that they were able to provide some basic maternity care via a car park so women could stay safe in their cars. Finally, an increase in funding during the pandemic meant her hospital could buy new technology which monitored jaundice and other blood conditions more effectively in newborn babies.
Students took time at the end of the talk to ask the following questions:
What was it that made you want to be a midwife? Claire’s parents both taught at Truro School which initially inspired her to be a teacher but she changed her mind at sixteen when looking into a healthcare career. She considered medicine but loved the continuity and opportunity to produce good healthcare within midwifery.
Are there any men in the field? “Yes, there are many – whilst it is female dominated there are men.”
Favourite part of daily working life? Claire enjoys seeing new families and seeing a pregnant women’s bump and hours later a baby – she admitted that is never ceases to amaze how the body can do it. But also: “knowing that I made a difference. I know that if I do my job right then it makes everyone else’s jobs and responsibilities that much easier.”
The greatest challenge? “The emotional side of things and it can be quite stressful because you have a lot of responsibility. You’re working with other people who all have different opinions. The level of staff also varies so some shifts I might have the support from one midwife and another I may have too many. But it’s mainly the emotional side of it.”
Thank you to Claire for your time supporting the Allied Healthcare careers talks. If you are an alumni find out about how you can support the careers programme here.