My mums advice upon me starting my midwifery placement? “Be like Teflon”. Now, with my mum being a nurse for over 35 years and being a mentor for nursing students, I was expecting some better advice than that. However five months into my placement I now realise that this was the best advice she could have given me.
By referring to Teflon, my mum was trying to say, don’t let anything stick; don’t take anything personally. Looking back on the last five months, if I had taken everything that happened on placement personally, I probably wouldn’t still be on the course.
And by being Teflon, it does not mean not caring! It means not letting every comment and action affect you as a personal slight, because that would be extremely emotionally draining!
I have worked with midwives who couldn’t make it any more obvious that they did not want me there, it makes you feel like a constant nuisance and when it is every shift for a 4 week placement it can diminish your confidence. More often than not, it is a reflection of the midwife themselves and could be perhaps their lack of confidence in teaching, or of being observed. It is also important to be aware of the clinical pressures midwives are under; it can be extremely difficult balancing a huge workload as well as teaching simultaneously, and we as students need to be aware of this and appreciate that we are not always the priority. The women in the midwives care are.
I have had experiences where I’ve been told to file a document and when I have enquired where, I have received an eye roll and a tut. However, if I don’t know something I have to ask. As students we must ask when we are unsure, if not how will we learn? So I disregard the eye roll and ask them to show me where to file the documents so that next time I know. To let that eye roll affect you, you risk filing that document in the wrong place and just postponing that awkward moment when you are asked to do it again and you have no idea!
As student midwives, we are there to learn, and as first years we need to be confident in asserting what we do and don’t know and what we are not comfortable in doing. The vast majority of midwives are more than helpful in explaining things through to you, taking time out of their workload to help. However if you encounter impatience and dismissive behaviour, remember to not take it personally, be Teflon!