Second Year Blues

So… this blog kept me sane during my second year studying midwifery. It was really important for me to pass on some of my experiences, so that they weren’t in vain. With the benefit of hindsight, second year of the course was probably one of the toughest years of my life, only coming after the years each of my babies was born!

I wasn’t the only one who struggled, I’ve talked to other midwifery students who had similar anxiety levels on starting new placements, even ones I had already worked in the previous year. There were nights I couldn’t sleep, for worrying about the day to come, and woke up in the morning exhausted and dreading the day ahead. There wasn’t any particular reason for these feelings of anxiety that I could pin down, my mentors were great, I wasn’t getting negative feedback on my performance, I didn’t have any traumatic experiences. I think I have to put it down to just feeling overwhelmed by the need to step everything up a gear. There’s a huge difference between practicing as a first year and second year student midwife.

Once you’re in the second year, your mentors expect you to be able to, for example, manage a bay of 4 women on the antenatal or postnatal ward, for a shift. Obviously you spend quite a bit of time discussing your plans of care with the mentor to make sure you’re not missing anything or making mistakes, but some mentors will let you accept handover of care for those women in the morning, and hand care over to the next shift in the evening yourself, while under supervision. This is a huge step up in terms of responsibility, and even though you are well-supported through this, it’s stressful.

I’m thinking about this again at the moment because I’m half way through third year now, and starting to think about applying for jobs, and I’m realising that there’s going to be another seismic shift, when I become totally accountable for my own practice. Every time one of our tutors or midwives on placement reminds us “not long now, you’ll be in the navy blue soon…” we all groan in horror. It shouldn’t be so scary, but we’re all very aware that soon we will have the lives of women and children in our hands.

I don’t know how I got through second year, my home life suffered, my family walked every step of the way with me. I’m stronger now, without a doubt, but I do wonder about the cost. I hope that the experience of becoming a qualified Registered Midwife won’t be too traumatic, and am actively seeking a job in a Trust that prioritises induction and preceptorship, so that I can feel supported through this huge transition.