Midwifery scholarship experience opens eyes to regional health care needs

Notre Dame Midwifery student, Miriam West, was the recipient of the Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship and Support Scheme. She was placed at Nickol Bay Hospital in Karratha.

24 July 2015

An opportunity to improve the care of expectant mothers across Western Australia’s vast Pilbara region has inspired Notre Dame Midwifery student, Miriam West, to seek further working experiences in the country.

Miriam was a recipient of the Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship and Support Scheme, funded by the Department of Health. This national program provides financial assistance to nursing and midwifery students who attend professional practice training in rural areas.

She worked at the maternity unit at Nickol Bay Hospital in Karratha where her time was dedicated to supporting women in labour, helping with caesarean sections, and working on the ward and the antenatal clinic. Miriam also assisted in the delivery of a baby.

Working in a region where some people live hundreds of kilometres from their nearest medical facility, Miriam said one of her most important duties was preparing patients for a safe return home.

“Setting the women up and preparing them to go home was very important because, in some cases, it was not possible for them to easily return to the hospital if something didn’t work out,” Miriam said.

“The way the multidisciplinary team worked together to achieve such positive outcomes was a great learning outcome for me and something I felt privileged to be part of.”

Part of Miriam’s award also saw funds directed to the facility assisting in the training of students. Nickol Bay Hospital is expected to use its $2000 grant to purchase a large bathtub to provide expectant mothers with more options for pain relief during labour.

Miriam said this experience cemented her ambition to undertake further work in country WA.

“Working in the country has always been a plan of mine; now I am aware of the amazing culture and community spirit which exist in these areas. This is something I’m very much looking forward to experience once again,” Miriam said.

The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Midwifery program provides a holistic education experience where students can directly apply theory in their professional practice experience placements. The field placements are wide and varied, including public and private hospitals and clinics in both metropolitan and rural areas.

“The midwives at the rural facilities provide mentoring for the Notre Dame students and are instrumental in improving the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the students,” Sheena McChlery, Coordinator of the Midwifery program at Notre Dame, said.

“It is a pleasure to know that a Notre Dame student has been involved in repaying the very generous time and commitment afforded by the midwifery staff of Nickol Bay Hospital.

“Miriam is the first of Notre Dame’s Midwifery students to undertake practice at Nickol Bay Hospital and she has certainly set a precedent – not only in her high standards of midwifery knowledge, but also in her generosity of spirit.”

Interested in studying Midwifery at Notre Dame? The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus is hosting its annual Open Day Festival on Sunday 16 August 2015. Register online at notredame.edu.au/openday/fremantle.

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093; leigh.dawson@nd.edu.au