Being inspired by the mission of AME to support excellent in midwifery education through connection, collaboration and communication, I have been organizing and facilitating monthly conference calls between the Clinical and Practicum Directors of MEAC schools for the past year and a half. I started a committee with Mary Yglesia of Bastyr University and Sarah Carter of Midwives College of Utah to discuss this idea and come up with a plan. I contacted each MEAC school in the US to determine who would be interested. I was happy to hear that they all were, so I started by sending out a survey to each Clinical/Practicum Director to poll how they handled various aspects of their jobs.
Our first call focused on sharing and discussing the results of this survey. We determined which topics we would cover over the next year and we settled on the meeting dates for a 1.5 hour call once a month.
I wanted each call to be a collaborative effort with everyone having the chance to share their processes about the topic, ask questions, and brainstorm together. The support and relief I felt hearing other women share the same struggles and triumphs about their work sustained me. On each call I learned new techniques for evaluating feedback, trainings relevant to preceptors, different ways to support students, among many other brilliant ideas. Sometimes the calls showed me the ways in which I excelled in my role. Other calls I learned how I can improve my processes. Knowing we all struggle with the same problems motivates us to continue striving to be better.
What do we all love the most? Connecting personally with our students and preceptors, supporting them as they form relationships with each other, hearing their struggles and counseling them on how to find balance within their many roles.
What do we find the most challenging? Providing constructive feedback to preceptors while protecting the anonymity of the student who feels very vulnerable.
In the past year and a half, we have accomplished a lot! We collaborate on ways to satisfy MEAC standards and how to train our preceptors to teach our students effectively. We have brainstormed on ideas to motivate our students to submit clinical experience forms on time and ways to facilitate good communication skills between preceptors and students. We shared ideas on how to encourage preceptors to give feedback to students in a way that will build them up and not break their self-confidence. We’ve shared information about training and policy manuals.
After 11 years at FSTM, it is time for me to slowly step back to allow room for me to midwife full time again. I am ready to pass on my experience to someone else who wants to put the education of midwives first. Returning to my role as a full time midwife feels like a dream come true.
I am so thankful for the relationships I have formed over the years in this profession. Thank you for all you do to further midwifery education!