After hitting every single road block imaginable (and some new ones) in the quest to getting a placement for January, I have finally made it past the official placement confirmation deadline.
Most of my cohort found out what their placement was (unofficially) over a month ago, but as you know if you’ve been following me, I fell out of the first lottery and had to resubmit my choices. I’m so very glad that the majority of my cohort had a great lottery experience, because I ended up with more of a journey than I ever thought imaginable.
So here it is, in 13 easy steps. (Get ready, it’s long and complicated.)
13 STEPS TO SONIA GETTING A STUDENT MIDWIFE PLACEMENT
- After falling out of the lottery, I resubmitted my choices from the remaining placement options and was awarded a placement in London.
- A trading period followed. Anyone who was not happy with their placement submitted theirs for trade. I chose to enter the Trades, as I was hoping there might be someone else who wanted to give up a Hamilton placement. I didn’t want to move to London.There were two placements on the list that would enable me to stay in the Hamilton area: Brantford and The Hamilton Midwives (THM). As a result, my email submission noted that I would trade London for first, THM (20 minute walk), and second, Brantford (25 minute drive).
THE TRADE RULES:
- If you don’t get your choices in the Trades, you don’t lose your placement.
For me: If Brantford or Hamilton were awarded to someone else, I would have been able to keep London.
- If another person wants the same trade as you, that placement goes to a lottery.
More on that later.
- If you don’t get your choices in the Trades, you don’t lose your placement.
- October 20: I received the confirmation – I was awarded a placement at The Hamilton Midwives!In the background: I had two classmates that went into the Trades. Let’s call them Ann and Betty.
Ann had originally received had a summer Hamilton placement in the first lottery. She wanted to go into the Trades to see if she could get a winter Hamilton placement so that she could have the summer off.
Betty had received a winter Brantford placement. She was 8 months pregnant and wanted to take the winter off to care of her newborn. She entered the Trades with the hope of getting a summer Hamilton placement. If she didn’t get a summer placement, she would have to take a year off the program.
- October 21: they asked me to come into the office to chat about placement. That’s just never good, now is it?
- October 22: I learned how to do a pelvic exam and did a pharmacology midterm.
- October 23: I met with the McMaster MEP program administrator. She notified me that there had been a mistake in the trade process; the woman running the process had noted two students wanted THM in the trade. Using a real hat, she put our two names in the hat, and with a witness in the room, drew for the THM placement.
The result: she drew Ann’s name, but wrote my name down on the sheet next to the THM spot. I then received the fateful, congratulatory email.
They asked me if I would give back THM spot. I politely declined, noting that the ability to walk to clinic and the hospital would not only be convenient for late night births, but it would also be significantly helpful financially. I am alone in my financial support – I have no family, and no financial backing. It’s just me. Being able to park my car for 4 months is kind of a lifesaver.
After declining, I was told:
- My London placement had been traded to another student, from one of the sister MEP schools.
- Ann was given the Brantford placement. Unfortunately, Ann did not ask for the Brantford placement in the Trade. Ann did not want Brantford.
- Meanwhile, Ann’s summer Hamilton placement was given to Betty. This left Ann in trouble. She was only willing to trade for THM, but her summer Hamilton placement was gone. She was out of a placement, and if she took hers back, a pregnant woman would have to take an entire year off the program.
- The program wanted to fix this, but the Consortium wouldn’t redo the Trades process, so instead, they were going to reach out to the other Hamilton midwifery clinics and ask them if they would be willing to take on another winter Normal Childbearing student.They understood that I did not want to give up THM, and that they had to find Ann another winter Hamilton placement because she was given a placement she never asked for. If they could not do this, they would have to go backward, which would take the summer placement from pregnant Betty.
- I left the meeting with our program administrator understanding that I had THM, and that if another winter Hamilton placement became available that it would go to Ann. Betty would be saved. All the problems would be solved.
- Thursday, November 12 – three weeks later – I receive an email:
” Hi Sonia – Thank you for your patience while we have tried to sort out a solution to the lottery error. Your Normal Childbearing (winter) placement will be at Access Midwives. Preceptor info will be provided Nov.20th.”
- Thursday, November 12 – I am confused. Happy; but confused. I thought I had THM? Why do I suddenly have this other clinic, without a real explanation as to why it wasn’t THM?
In the background: Ann received her placement email at THM. So they had switched us, for some reason. I emailed the placement coordinator and politely asked if they wouldn’t mind explaining the process to me. They agreed to meet.
- Friday, November 13. I met with the McMaster MEP program administrator and the placement coordinator.
They explained that when an error is made in the MEP, the standard process is to go backward to the error and begin again from there.
Note: this process is not written in any official MEP documentation, which is why I was left confused. Had I known this was the process, I would have kindly asked them to redraw the Hamilton trade three weeks ago, with Ann and I as witnesses, and be done with it. When I suggested this, they noted this option had not occurred to them.
The error was in the draw for THM trade; so, per this process, they went back, switched Ann to THM and me to Brantford, and then awarded me the new winter Hamilton placement after Access Midwives agreed to take on another student. None of this was communicated effectively to Ann or myself.
- Friday, November 13. After a short discussion, the program administrator paused, took a breath, and said, “I hate to say this though, Sonia. We received a call from Access Midwives this morning and they will not be taking a student this winter. They changed their minds overnight.”
My heart catapulted itself to the bottom of my stomach and simmered in gastric acid. I wanted to cry. It was NOVEMBER 13 and there was a potential that I had to move in less than a month. I didn’t understand how I could be offered two placements (three, if you count my now donated London placement) and have them taken away; is this an acceptable practice? Should it be?
After a lengthy, professional but stern discussion, they notified me that I would be given a list of remaining placement options to select from. I quickly reflected back the process: if an error is made, the MEP goes back to where the error was made and begins from there. In theory, then, my placement should be in Brantford and I should be allowed to commute there this winter. They told me they would check with the clinic and get back to me, and I kindly asked them to email me by the end of the day with an update. They obliged.
- I waited until the November 20 placement confirmation deadline.
- November 20 deadline: I (along with the rest of my cohort who had already known their unofficial placements for more than a month now) received the fateful email confirming my placement … at the Community Midwives of Brantford!
If you’re still with me, you’ve noted that the journey was a long one. Crazy, and interesting, and exhausting.
I am still trepidatious because of all that has happened, but this week has given me time to soak in the realization that I don’t have to move and will be placed at Brantford Community Midwives!
I was given permission by the program administrator during our last meeting to share my story; her words, “This is your story to share, Sonia.” I’ve tried to be factual about all that has happened, and while disappointed in how stressful everything has been, I’m here, finally ready for placement. I’ve heard great things about the Brantford clinic. I’m keen to be a great midwife and learn all I can from those amazing women.
… first I have to pass exams, though … 🙂