As 2020 draws to a close, we are acknowledging and celebrating the dedication of our graduates working in the NHS. We asked five BU alumni to reflect on the past year, and to tell us their hopes for the year ahead. The interviews also form part of BU’s celebration of the International Year of the Nurse/Midwife, designated by the World Health Organisation to mark the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth.

Jess graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Midwifery in 2020 and now works as a Midwife for University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust.

How did your job role change as a result of the pandemic?

I trained in the trust that I now work within and things have changed a lot due to the pandemic. The obvious being facemasks and PPE. However, we also now face the additional role of being the only support a woman has for most of her appointments and her time as an inpatient, other than through labour care. We wipe the tears from women missing their children, partners and family after being inpatients for long stays. We hold the hands of women in early labour who would normally have their partners by their sides. We have the added pressure of having to accommodate those who need to isolate amongst already busy and full wards. Things have changed massively due to Covid, however, there are some positives. Women who previously may not have been seen on their own have to be seen alone, so we can ask more often about domestic violence and worries at home. We have developed new ways to deliver antenatal education online so that more families benefit.

What were the biggest challenges of the past year – professionally or personally?

The biggest challenges have been getting used to the transition from student, to paid student to newly qualified midwife. But I've had fantastic support from our practice educator team who have really helped see me through.

What, if any, were the high points or moments of celebration?

My first birth as a newly qualified midwife. A moment I will never forget. Knowing I had made it through my very first shift on delivery suite as a qualified midwife and safely facilitated a birth was a really proud moment.

As 2020 draws to a close, what has this year taught you and what are your hopes for the coming year?

I hope that this coming year brings some normality back to the health service. Being pregnant in a global pandemic and feeling the full effects of the restrictions on partners attending appointments, scans and other parts of the pregnancy journey, I've learnt how important support networks are. I've also learnt that midwifery is really quite hard but a privilege none the less. Looking back, I truly value the time and effort my mentors gave me to help me through my training and I hope, as I become a mentor other students, that I can offer the same support I received.