It's a long time ago since I was a student midwife (1970's), we were then known as a pupil midwives. It's even a long time since my daughter was a student midwife...and that does make me feel old! I have worked very closely with so many incredible students throughout my career, and I have instantly recognised the ones who I felt 'had it'- that is, the sensitivity and kindness that makes a difference to childbearing women in their most vulnerable yet special moments of their life.
But during the past year I have been incredibly fortunate to have 'met' hundreds of students from throughout the UK and beyond, in the virtual world. This has been made possible because of two things: writing my midwifery memoir Catching Babies, and using Twitter.
So many student midwives have contacted me and given feedback about my book, and I am touch with dozens on Twitter. I have also been approached by several individual students with requests to talk at their University conferences, and have been humbled and honoured to attend and support them.
So what is it that makes me feel proud? From my experience I feel this new generation of student midwives have not only 'got it', but they have other attributes that really impress me. I have seen a confidence and maturity that enables them to express themselves respectfully, with humility and graciousness. But this assertiveness is not at the cost of kindness and compassion; this is in abundance, along with an enormous passion to make a difference to women and families during the childbirth period.
My belief was further consolidated on the 16th July when several student midwives dressed in 1950's Call the Midwife style uniforms cycled 6 miles through London raising awareness of the desperate need for 5000 more midwives and the petition that the Royal College of Midwives have organised. The event was organised by Rebecca Ashley, and she and her colleagues have demonstrated courage and determination, innovation and leadership and they are still in their first year. We (midwives) are eternally grateful to them.
The more I communicate with, see, hear and chat to our country's student midwives, the more my heart sings. We are incredibly fortunate, and the future health of our nation depends on their ability to say strong, positive and focused.