Our program was rocked last week with a very sudden announcement about changes to how we do placements. Placements are in second through fourth year, in a variety of locations and last for different time periods depending on the level you are in. Their purpose is to allow students to join a clinic and shadow an experienced midwife, so that we may develop our hands-on skills. Placements are typically decided by a lottery to keep things fair. Nurses, MD students, physiotherapists and beyond … we all do them.
This new system means that all three Ontario midwifery schools no longer go into a province-wide lottery system, where you could have ended up anywhere in Ontario (Canada’s largest province). Now, each of the three campuses in the Midwifery Education Program (MEP) Consortium has its own region to do placements, for its own students.
This means that McMaster will be a lottery of 30 students (my class only; meaning less competition) but in a smaller area restricted to southern Ontario. Toronto and Ottawa are now not included in our region. Click the map below to see where the new placements are (McMaster is green):
I’m going to leave my opinions out of this one, because I know this can’t have been a very easy decision for the MEP administration and that people have lost employment as part of this decision. Such a sensitive topic.
I do though, want to acknowledge that students are split on the change, which is why giving an opinion is hardly appropriate; some are disadvantaged by the changes because their top 4 lottery choices are now outside of their campus’ region (for example, Hamilton is only 45 minutes outside of Toronto; some of my cohort were counting on competing for at least one placement in Toronto because they own homes there). On the other hand, some students are advantaged by the change, in that they will not have to move as far away from their families (or maybe, not have to move at all). The issue of contention for the disadvantaged students is why the program made this change midway through, and not for prospective students. The students who are supportive of this change are glad it’s happening now.
I hope the turmoil passes soon and that we can all move toward a facilitated and productive dialogue on the matter, because press is starting on this and student unions are rallying. All sides need to be granted dialogue on this subject. It has sure sparked an intense debate in the midwifery student community on the rights of students to be heard, on communication between the MEP and its students, and on the push to make midwifery education in Canada better with every major program change.
Quite a bit of social-justice excitement in this new career I’ve chosen!