On starting their programme of study, student midwives are generally highly motivated and optimistic about their journey into their chosen profession; however there is evidence to suggest the personal, professional, academic and emotional stressors are too much for some students which leads to attrition; estimated to be 20% in 2012 (Centre for Workforce Intelligence). With the existing shortfall in numbers of practising midwives (National Audit Office, 2013) and an imminent ‘retirement time bomb’ (Royal College of Midwives (RCM), 2015) it is clear that additional strategies need to be put in place to support student midwives to successfully complete their studies to then join the existing workforce (Power, 2015). Universities have support systems in place for all students, irrespective of their programme of study, including student-led societies. On starting her programme of study at the University of Northampton, student midwife Ilaria Grzelak realised ‘traditional’ student societies would not meet the specific needs of student midwives, since their course not only has academic but also professional body demands that require student midwives to undertake clinical placements as well as attend the university. Ilaria decided a midwifery specific society to support student midwives was needed. Iliaria’s observations concurred with literature which suggests peer support is a key factor in student midwives’ achievement and successful completion of their programme of study (McIntosh et al., 2013). This article will outline how Ilaria set up the midwifery society and how it continues to benefit her fellow student midwives.
- Student midwives
- peer support
- pre-registration midwifery education
- midwifery societies