- Course: BSc Midwifery
- Year of graduation: 2000
- Job title: Midwife
- Company: East Lancs Hospitals NHS Trust
Alumni Rachel Massey graduated with a degree in BSc Midwifery in 2000 and has gone on to have a 20 year career as a midwife while continuing her professional development with further education.
What has your career as a midwife been like?
I worked for 20 years as a midwife with East Lancs Hospitals NHS Trust, during that time, I worked as a team midwife, split across the community and the obstetric unit. In 2011 the unit closed and moved to a new purpose-built unit in another town. As a result, I moved to be based in a free-standing midwifery-led birthing centre, whilst also continuing my community role.
What further studying have you done since your undergraduate degree?
Whilst working full time I also undertook and completed my MA in Midwifery which culminated in my own piece of research looking at Women’s Experience of Birth for the first time over 35 and later my mentorship and a Safeguarding module. I also have had a role as Health and Safety officer within the RCM and been the Safeguarding champion for the Birthing centre.
In 2018 I was seconded into research, where I coordinated a research study across two trusts- East Lancs and Pennine Acute NHS Trust. I was the sole coordinating midwife that implemented and ran the study which was looking at Midwifery Care in Pregnancies after Stillbirth and Neonatal Death. I really enjoyed this post as it allowed me more autonomy and allowed me to develop lots of new skills.
As of January 2021, I have started further study with a degree in Health Visiting. This is a Public Health role and will enable me to look after families for longer and be more involved in Safeguarding. It is building on my vast Midwifery knowledge, which I am hoping will come in very useful!
What experiences at Leeds do you think particularly helped you in your career?
I think the way the course was set up was good as we were placed in either Leeds General Hospital or St James Hospital and then another district hospital. I was based in Huddersfield, a small district hospital. By working in two different trusts we were able to see the contrast in how a busy city unit compared to a local district.
I also got some good experiences- like working on the assisted conception unit. To be able to witness egg transfers and collection etc (especially in the 90s!) was really valuable and not something I’ve never had the chance to see again. I didn’t really love it but visiting the cadavers was very beneficial and allowed a good understanding!
How have the academics, researchers and practitioners at Leeds helped shape your professional life?
They gave me good grounding and knowledge- things particular lecturers and practitioners said and did have never left me. A lot of midwifery skills are developed in placements and a good relationship with mentors is essential. The researchers made me think and analyse the work that I do- always critically analysing! Years later reading studies and articles from well respected researchers, then you realise that they taught you at Leeds!
What values and behaviours has a degree from Leeds provided you within your professional role?
I think always putting women and babies as the centre of all we do- to be woman-centred, to provide individualised care. The value of informed consent, ensuring women understanding so that we can work in partnership to provide the best care and experience for them.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of starting or returning to a career that requires a degree in midwifery?
I would say that it is not an easy degree and career choice- the course can be hard work and there is so much more than cuddling babies! It can be very demanding and it’s more than just a job, it is a vocation which can often be challenging, but also very rewarding.
About the University
Why did you choose the University of Leeds?
I loved the idea of moving to the city and being part of the busy life the city offered. Also, the course was offered over 3 years rather than the 4 years that all other universities were offering at the time. Distance from home was good- far enough away to be away, but close enough to get home if needed. Also, the prestige of the University and potentially training at St James’
What did you enjoy most about your course?
The variety of experience working at LGI and Huddersfield and training at Leeds. I loved being part of the University and the student life, just wish that the course had allowed more time to get involved in other groups and activities. I also made some lifelong friends, both on and off the course.
What advice would you offer to current and prospective students thinking of studying at the University of Leeds?
I would highly recommend it, the whole city has a lovely vibrant feel to it. It is a great place to study and live and I always felt welcomed everywhere we went. There is so much going on and things to see and do from shopping to nightlife, museums, and festivals and so much diversity.