Call the Midwives: Charlene Cole

As a mature student, I have come at Midwifery from a different angle to Anna from last week’s blog. I used to work as a research chemist in my position as postgraduate research assistant at the University of Warwick with Professor Haddleton and Professor Bon. I was fully immersed in the world of synthetic polymer chemistry and blissfully unaware of the rigours of the role of a midwife in training.

After graduating with my PhD in chemistry and having three children (in very quick succession) I realised that Midwifery was something that I wanted to explore as an option for my career: it contained elements of science and medicine, which I love, and combined them with holistic, nurturing skills that fascinated me. Midwifery looks after the whole woman and family – inside and out, emotionally, physically and psychologically. I wanted to be a part of this wonderful vocation. So here I am, aged 37 starting again on a completely different career path.

conferenceMy first shift on labour ward is something I will never forget – the transition for me had been made slightly easier as I had worked as a support worker on the maternity unit at SWFT for 6 months prior to starting my midwifery degree. However, the fear and trepidation I experienced were almost overwhelming. The realisation that the safety and wellbeing of the woman and baby were in my (and thankfully my skilled mentor’s) hands was a terrifying prospect. I have got used to the fear now, you always feel on heightened alert when working on the wards and stress levels can run very high, but with the support of the fabulous mentors I have had at UHCW and SWFT I am blossoming and genuinely look forward to each placement and the new challenges that face me.

Charlene and Anna at the RCM conference

I work alongside Anna, the president of our Midwifery Society and have been involved in some of the fun activities that have been arranged over the year – bingo being the highlight where I won a mug! Anna and I were chosen to present at the recent RCM Education Conference in Glasgow, and have recently been asked to present at the Coventry University Health & Life Sciences Conference in April. One of my missions as a student is to recruit more students to Twitter and social media as it has opened up so many doors for me, it is also a great learning resource that needs to be used more.

As well as being the Inclusion Officer for our Midwifery Society, I am the England representative for the student forum at the RCM, and I am involved in organising the student part of the Annual RCM Conference. I am a member of the Electronic Foetal Monitoring Board and I am also part of the RCM advisory committee.

Life is hectic, particularly when balancing my family commitments with shift work, essays and exams and external board commitments. But that’s exactly how I like it and wouldn’t have it any other way!