In fact Grey Bruce might be the best placement you could ask for. I was thinking back to this time last year and the excitement that lingered in our classroom about the upcoming placement selections. In honour of that anxiety provoking time period, I thought I would post a few bits of support that I wish I had heard when my future was completely out of my control (and for when it will happen again in February 2017). I’ve certainly changed my mind on a few things. May it be of benefit to someone 🙂
- Moving. Try to go in to that lottery armed with a true comfort with moving. Not the pretend, “I know there’s a risk,” bull shit, but the, “Okay, there’s a very real reality that I might have to move and if that happens here’s how I envision myself working through that.” The more you are stuck on NOT wanting to move, the harder it hurts if you are one of those unlucky few that fall out of the lottery. Trust me. I wish I had been more honest with myself.
- Scope. Some regions in Ontario restrict the scope of midwives so that they cannot manage certain aspects of care. It is typically driven by hospital policy. Usually this means we can do everything except manage epidurals and/or inductions of labour using oxytocin. For NC, it doesn’t really matter all that much. Brantford was low-scope for epidurals (meaning we had to transfer care to an OB if a client chose an epidural) and it only affected me a handful of times. Most of the time, I was grateful for the extra hours of sleep and nursing back-up. You’re pretty busy trying to grasp normal care management, so I would worry about this more in 4th year. Even then, it’s kind of out of our control, isn’t it?
- About big cities. Big centres with big hospitals and big medical reputations will have … a big-ass group of other learners. That might limit the opportunities. If you don’t get your urban centre choice, that might be opening a door for you to get more hands-on somewhere else.
- About rural practice. In retrospect, rural placements aren’t so bad. They usually come with more normal births meaning you get to do more. Home birth experience goes up in rural areas too. I don’t know why this is, or have a randomized-control study to back this theory up, but anecdotally this seems to be the case.
- Senior student advice. Take it with a grain of salt. Everyone has their own personality and preferences – just because they “hated” being in St.Wherever-it-is, doesn’t mean you will. Just because they had trouble with their preceptor, doesn’t mean you will, or that that preceptor will even be taking students again this year. You are different, you are you – you will bring different skills to the table and are capable of bonding with people in different ways than others. You can make this placement whatever you need it to be.
- Falling out of the lottery. Let yourself feel it, while respecting your classmate’s experiences. I felt so alone and really fucking angry when I fell out of the lottery. I needed time away to let myself be upset and process. All my classmates were elated and I didn’t want to take that away from them, but I was so mad. They got what they wanted and I didn’t – how could they possibly understand?
Most of them didn’t.
So, if this happens to you, take whatever time you need to feel it. You don’t have to pretend everything will be okay until later. Then, reach out to the other people who fell out, or to the senior students above you who you know went through the same thing. There’s some real love there that will help you manage your falling-out anxiety. When I fell out, 4 senior students ran to my aid, took me for lunches and coffees, gave wonderful hugs, and helped me sift through the list of what was left to choose from. I couldn’t have done it without them.
- Perspective. Moving sucks the hardest, but for NC, it’s only 4 months of your life. You’ll be so immersed in learning and midwifery life that it can actually be really nice to be away somewhere without distraction – if you choose to look at it that way. This training is a privilege, wherever you have to take it.
- On winter driving. I’m a bit less kind on this one … We live in Canada and winter driving is a thing here. Trying to choose a placement to avoid winter driving is like trying to avoid getting wet when you’re already in the pool. Don’t get my wrong, I still hate it, but it’s our reality. Get some great tires, a shovel or garage, good/easy to throw on winter attire, and put on your Canadian big kid snowpants. If you miss the birth because you were driving slowly and safely, then you miss it. You’re in NC and that’s okay because you are not the most responsible person … yet. Plus, if it’s that bad, even your preceptor won’t make it.
- Loneliness is part of the game, but accessible support networks are important. Placement is a lonely time, regardless of where you end up. Every single one of my classmates mentioned something to the effect of feeling lonely, even when they lived with family.
You do classes online. You are “free” to do what you like when you’re on-call but you’re restricted to your call area. You are sleeping when others are grocery shopping. You are awake when others are dreaming under comfy duvets. You’re challenging your body and mind to adjust to a new reality, day-in and day-out. This is honourable work with a bizarre schedule, but there are ways to mitigate the loneliness if you are willing to look for them.
If you have someone near to make your meals and clean your house, that will help. Otherwise, the journey is internal and the people who will help you through the most are those 29 other fabulous women who are going through the same thing. Know their phone numbers and go beyond texting to take some time to call them – they will be your lifeline, 24-7.
- Remember what drove you into midwifery. It’s not about location, is it? Wherever you end up being placed, you will still learn the skills you need. You will be a midwife, even if they send you to the middle of nowhere Ontario. Keep the end goal in sight, and repeat after me:“I want to be a skilled midwife! I’m meant to be a midwife and this is how I’m going to get there!”That fire inside you that made you change your life and apply to midwifery – that’s the fire you need to stoke, everyday throughout this process. Focus and care for that little flame. It’s why you’re here, isn’t it?