A Month of Awards!

This month has been awards month. First of all I picked up the Partnership Working Award from the Royal College of Midwives on behalf of www.hEDSTogether.com…I was certainly not expecting this award given the fierce competition. I was also feeling terrible in recovery from a cold when I collected the award. So not the best look over all (red nose & tears!)

Next time I certainly need to dress up in something a little more sparkly….

It was awesome to spend the day among other ‘Tall Poppies’ celebrating… It has been such a long time since we have been able to meet as midwives in person! The Brewery was a wonderful venue and the organizing team had done a wonderful job! – Thank you!

Next we had the Student Nursing Times Awards… #STNA 10th Anniversary!

It is such a privilege to judge the category of the ‘Student Midwife of the Year’

Here I am bestowing the award upon the wonderful Nicolette Porter from Middlesex University!

Also wonderful to meet with other awesome academics at this event….so much to learn and share from the best in Higher Education. I am learning every day!

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog


New Research Explores Substance Use in Midwifery Populations

September 2021, we published the first research of it’s kind to explore problematic substance use in midwifery populations. The maternity and midwifery forum kindly shared our blog about this here.

You can read about our findings here or watch the video below for a short summary of what we found.

 Main findings as follows:

• Just over ¼ of our sample (623 midwives) screened positive for problematic substance use (alcohol and a range of restricted drugs).

• Problematic substance use occurred reportedly in response to work-related stress and anxiety, bullying, traumatic clinical incidents and maintenance of overall functioning

• While 11% of those affected indicated they had sought help, 27% felt they should seek help but did not

• Barriers to help-seeking included fear of repercussions, shame, stigma, practicalities and a perceived lack of support either available or required

• 10% of the sample reported they had attended work under the influence of alcohol, and 6% under the influence of drugs other than tobacco or those as prescribed to them.

• 37% indicated concern about a colleague’s substance use.

This is only the beginning and there is lots more work to be done. Follow the project page for this here.

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 

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The ‘Humans Not Heroes’ Project

Calling All Healthcare workers across the UK – The call-out for participants in this unique wellbeing project is now open with dates across 2021!

A black and white photograph of a persons face behind a plastic shield and glasses, dressed in full PPE.

If you, or someone you know, would like to get involved – please follow the link to sign up: https://bit.ly/HNHform

The workshops aim to give space to participants, allowing for moments to decompress and process.

By taking part in this project, you will participate in co-creation workshops led by professional artists Caroline Horton or Rochi Rampal, you will collaborate with other healthcare workers from across the UK in a supportive online environment and co-create a unique piece of audio art work which represents your experiences of working through the pandemic.

There are four dates to choose from for Workshop 1. Workshop 2 is optional as the co-refinement process can take place via email. The sharing event is also optional and will be recorded for participants who are unable to attend.

All workshops will take place online. There are a number of dates available.

You can always see what studies we are recruiting for by clicking here.


Reflecting on a fabulous May 2021 and #IDM2021

As we come to the end of May 2021, I wanted to reflect on a few of the things which have come to fruition.

Of course early on we celebrated International Day of the Midwife 2021. Invest in midwives…The best is yet to come! #IDM2021


On this #IDM2021 (May the 5th) I was thrilled to be able to announce some awesome things we have been working on for some time now. First, I was able to share our @IolantheMidwife ‘Midwives Award’ won on #InternationalDayoftheMidwife for our work on Substance use in Midwifery populations. You can still participate in this research until September 2021 – Details below. Please share this link with midwifery teams: https://bit.ly/UKMidwivesPSU


I was also able to share my appointment as #NursingNowChallenge midwifery champion!

Read more here: https://bit.ly/3h0t8X6


I hope that this will be enable us to raise the profile of midwives around the world.

Furthermore, on the 6th May 2021 I had the privilege of being the invited speaker at the 102nd Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation@INMO_IRL (@INMO_IRL) Annual Delegates Conference. #INMOADC. I shared our work ‘Exploring Problematic Substance Use in Nursing and Midwifery Populations’ – A warm audience as ever!

Thank you for having me.


Then on the 18th of May 2021 I tuned in to watch the policy dialogue presenting the findings from #SoWMy2021 to Member States in an effort to encourage sustainable investment in the midwifery workforce. This was a really inspiring event where I was able to make some really valuable connections – thank you.


Other than May being my birthday month, May 2021 has been absolutely awesome. Moreover, I have been able to settle in in my new role as an RCM Fellow! Read more here

Buckinghamshire midwife awarded national honour

“Excited by what we may achieve together as this fellowship brings forward new opportunities…the best is certainly yet to come” says @SallyPezaro from @covcampus receiving RCM Fellowship #rcmedconf21 #education

Now that some of the restrictions are easing it seems that some publications are able to move forward again in the process of peer review. As such, I will be sharing some new publications with you all soon. I also have lots of bid writing plans for next month alongside teaching. A summer of collaborations ahead.

First, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue and finish journey with @OxfordSBS … because midwifery #LeadershipMatters


Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog


Calling Midwives for Research Exploring their Substance Use One Year After the first UK Lockdown

A year ago, we surveyed over 600 midwives in the United Kingdom (UK) with regard to their substance use among other things. Data collection was halted early in response to the first lockdown of 2020 to avoid a distortion of results. Our findings are currently under peer review for publication.

Now, one year on, we are again looking for as many UK midwives as possible to complete and share this new survey, so that we may investigate what, if anything has changed.

All UK midwives are invited to complete this survey whether or not they participated in our last survey. They are also encouraged to participate whether or not they use substances. Please share the survey link widely.

Survey Link: https://bit.ly/UKMidwivesPSU

Please note: We will not be able to track or identify you in any way. As such, there will be no repercussions arise from anything you disclose. We are only interested in understanding, so please help us by keeping your responses anonymous throughout.

The aim of this new research is:

·         To identify the rate of problematic substance use (PSU) among midwives registered in the UK

·         To explore the leaving intentions of midwives registered in the UK

·         To explore the help seeking behaviours of midwives registered in the UK

·         To identify health risks among midwives registered in the UK

·         To measure work engagement within UK registered midwifery populations

Thank You on wooden blocks

Survey Link: https://bit.ly/UKMidwivesPSU

Access the entire project page here.

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 🎓


Identifying and Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in Pregnancy #16DaysOfActivism

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign which will kick off on the 25th of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and will run until the 10th of December, Human Rights Day. #16DaysOfActivism 

During these 16 days we will be launching and inviting people (predominantly health professionals) around the globe to enrol onto our Massive Open Online Learning Course (MOOC) entitled: Identifying and Responding to Domestic Violence and Abuse (DVA) in Pregnancy

Around 1 in 12 people are exposed to domestic violence and abuse (DVA) during pregnancy. This MOOC is free to access and will offer evidence-based training to professionals around the globe looking to improve their skills in supporting those affected by domestic violence and abuse (DVA) during pregnancy. On this course, students will discover the research, guidelines and techniques for screening for DVA. Students will have the opportunity to enhance their ability to support safe disclosure in maternity settings and empower victims of DVA to explore options and seek further support.

To enrol yourself and join the course… click this link

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


The cycle of maltreatment: How can we best support those at risk of having their baby removed at birth?

Applications for babies to be taken in to care at birth are at a national high. This results in significantly impaired life outcomes for the birthing community and their babies. So what barriers and facilitators are at play here? We have produced the following review of the literature published in @BJMidwifery to uncover therapeutic mechanisms and interventions to support those at risk of having their baby removed from them at birth.

BJM lit review

Tantawi-Basra, T., & Pezaro, S. (2020). Supporting childbearing women who are at risk of having their baby removed at birth. British Journal of Midwifery28(6), 378-387.

white bear amirugumi knitted doll

What did we find?

Barriers in supporting childbearing women who are at risk of having their baby removed at birth include:

  • Social narratives – Do these set women up to fail?
  • The paradox of help-seeking, fear and stigma – Women avoiding seeking help due to a fear of services
  • Inequalities in ethnic minority groups
  • Adverse childhood events (ACEs) and the cycle of maltreatment

Facilitators in supporting childbearing women who are at risk of having their baby removed at birth include:

  • Women’s capacity for change and self-esteem
  • Childbearing becoming a motivator for change
  • Mutual and realistic goal setting
  • The development of strong professional relationships
  • Early and sustained interventions

Uniquely, using the themes presented within this review, we have been
able to model the cycle of maltreatment which needs to be broken in Figure 1.

Cycle of Maltreatment model

As this review only yielded eight studies in total, further research could usefully inform a richer provision of research inspired teaching and training in this area.

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤



Boats On An Ocean

person in blue denim jeans with gray and black metal padlock

Looking at the lives of healthcare workers through the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, this project explores their ‘human’ experiences – in contrast to the public and media portrayal of them as ‘heroes’.

The audio artwork is the representation of the stories, experiences and emotions of eight healthcare workers from Coventry and across the UK, gathered during an online creative workshop. From this, we identified seven themes, including the theme of the ‘hero’ narrative. While some might consider the label of ‘hero’ as praise, many of our healthcare worker participants explained that it sometimes caused feelings of guilt. A shift in focus is needed to recognise the emotional and physical toll for individuals. Adequate support is needed to help healthcare workers find meaning in their experiences.

LINK: https://coventrycreates.co.uk/project/boats-on-an-ocean/


#BoatsOnAnOcean – Our audio art piece showcased via the #CoventryCreates digital exhibition….#CityofCulture2021

Click here to see and hear this work

Great to work with @KerryWykes, @LouiseMoodyCU, @lizzesparkes, @YourOldChina & Bharti Patel to represent healthcare workers experiences of #COVID19 in this way!

Graduation cap

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 


Top 10 Essay Mistakes

For some years now I have had the pleasure of marking student essays and reading their interesting ideas and arguments in relation to a number of healthcare topics. Yet repeatedly, I see the same mistakes being made. These mistakes mean that I cannot assign a higher mark to the work, and that makes me sad. So, I’ve tried to consolidate and explain how to avoid the top 10 essay mistakes.

Want to know how to get higher marks in your essay? Read on…

Top 10 Mistakes Students Make in Their Essays

mistake text
  1. Always explain acronyms the first time you use them

Many students simply start using acronyms without explaining what they mean. How to fix this? You explain and write first that you are speaking in relation to the United Kingdom (UK)….THEN you can use ‘UK’ throughout the rest of the essay. If you don’t explain it first then I am left guessing as to what you mean throughout the rest of the work.

For further tips on grammar etc… see my other blog post here

2. Ensure correct spelling of practise/practice

This word is often spelled incorrectly. How do you know when to add an ‘S’ or a ‘C’? Try replacing the same sentence with the word ADVICE or ADVISE. The one which sounds more appropriate tells you which to use. For example:

Fitness to ‘advise’ sounds more appropriate than Fitness to ‘advice’. Therefore in this sentence you would spell practice with an ‘S’ so… the correct spelling in this case would be…

Fitness to PractiSe

red Wrong Way signage on road

3. avoid getting your essay structure back to front

Sometimes things can get higgledy piggledy. Your work should flow logically like a story, and it’s structure will depend largely on your own assignment guide….but broadly, appendices will go after reference lists and be labelled and named. You will also need to mention appendices, tables and figures in the main body of the text in order to direct the reader as to where to find things.

A story – a beginning, a middle and an end. Try to follow a narrative structure and your discussions and arguments will follow suit…the best way to do this is with structured assignment planning; each concept and new idea should link together or follow a new introduction.

See my top tips for essay writing here

4. Avoid naked sentences

One single sentence alone does not make a paragraph, yet too often I see this in essays, and it is not particularly useful. Also, I have yet to see anyone make a strong and well reasoned and evidence based argument in only one sentence. More often than not, this will be a single statement, best avoided unless coupled with other meaningful text.

black digital device at 0 00

5. Avoid huge chunks of text

A large chunk of text will likely have several points and arguments within it which can get lost overall. If you can break up such large chunks of text into smaller paragraphs, your overall structure will be far stronger. Each paragraph should encompass one argument concisely.

To see how to structure a research paper – See this blog here

6.convince the reader of your argument

When an essay gets a low grade, it is often because the reader is unconvinced of the arguments being made. Sometimes arguments do not go far enough, they are often not concluded. Ensure that you conclude each argument, after you have cited the evidence which lays out your case. For example, you may start the paragraph by saying….

“Johns et al (2020) explain how you can scald yourself by not wearing oven gloves when baking. Equally, Kent et al (2020) emphasize the need to wear oven gloves in the context of cooking in the kitchen. Nevertheless, another study proved that simply letting the oven dish cool down is effective enough in preventing burns in this context (Frog et al, 2020).”

The above example is similar to what I see in a lot of essays. Yet in itself, it does not round up an argument or make a case. It simply states what the evidence is in relation to the topic. To complete the argument, the author needs to draw a conclusion on this. What does this mean? what implications does it have? How strong or weak is the evidence in this regard. This paragraph does not go far enough, and ultimately needs concluding with another sentence or two beginning (for example) with… Therefore… or…As such…(insert very insightful conclusion here).

See my other blog relating specifically to critical analysis here

man wearing black suit jacket


Unless you are a world leader or significant and respected public figure, I am afraid you must avoid making large sweeping statements in a sentence without citation. For example, poverty may be a well known issue in many parts of the world. Yet you cannot simply say this (obvious though it may be) without citing a reference which points to the evidence for it. I frequently see this occurring in student essays – I can never assign positive marks to this.

boy singing on microphone with pop filter


The appropriate use of citations and references is a good thing. It demonstrates evidence of wider reading and makes your arguments stronger. However, the references used must be appropriate in the context of your work and field. In academia, it is generally most appropriate to cite peer reviewed articles from academic journals. Magazines and newspapers may be appropriate to cite in some cases, especially in some specialist fields. However, in nursing and midwifery for example, articles from publications such as ‘The Nursing Times’ will often be secondary sources reporting on the evidence, rather than the primary source of evidence itself. It is always best to cite the primary source of evidence in such cases.

In terms of referencing style, it is important to get this right too. See your own institutions style guide for the particulars.

Top Tip: Google Scholar will give you the top referencing style formats by clicking on the ‘cite’ button under each item listed. Click the ‘ ‘ symbol.

To find out how to review the literature, see this blog post.

To find out how to search the literature, see this blog post.

white bad habits LED signage


Too often I see students relying too heavily on the work of others. You should only be referring to the work of others in order to strengthen your own insights and arguments. I cannot give you marks for only telling me what other people say.


All too often, I see entire paragraphs describing what happened in a particular research study. I can give no marks for this as it is ultimately description. Moreover, I can read the study for myself, so you only really need to give a small description of the study to set the context for what you are trying to say. For example, if you want to talk about the rigor of a study design, all I really need to know is the study design in question. The marks come where you critique, rather than simply describe.

A useful paragraph may begin…

The study by Arthur et al, (2020) included a randomized controlled trial (RCT). RCT’s are generally considered rigorous when….(insightful critique continues)…

See my other blog relating specifically to critical analysis here

woman facing body of water

…and so we come to the end of our list of avoidable essay mistakes. Now go forth and become the academic unicorn you are.

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


Tobacco, alcohol & cannabis use among midwifery populations




Problematic substance use in midwifery populations is an uncomfortable topic to explore, yet:

    There are human and financial costs associated with problematic substance use (PSU) among the healthcare workforce, which also has a significant role in medical negligence.This systematic integrative review presents an international summary of the evidence in relation to PSU in midwifery populations.There is limited evidence available in relation to PSU in midwifery populations in comparison to that available for other healthcare populations.As midwives form a part of the general healthcare workforce and are exposed to similar workplace stressors, it is likely that they would be similarly affected by PSU in the healthcare workplace.Future research could usefully capture contemporary data in relation to PSU in distinct midwifery populations.wine

Our latest review on this topic is the first of it’s kind. We hope this work will act as a useful foundation for future work in this area.

Pezaro, S., Patterson, J., Moncrieff, G., & Ghai, I. (2020). A systematic integrative review of the literature on midwives and student midwives engaged in problematic substance use. Midwifery, 102785.

“Healthcare professionals who engage in PSU have indicated that they worry about their PSU, have trouble getting along with others, provide less than their best patient care, have limited their commitment to patient care and seriously consider suicide (Kenna and Wood, 2004). Whilst it has not been possible to identify midwifery populations within such larger data sets, we concur with Weenink et al. (2017), who suggest that it is unlikely midwives are immune from such similar effects.”

shallow focus photography of prescription bottle with capsules

“Being the first international systematic integrative review of PSU in midwifery populations, this article presents findings in relation to both midwives and student midwives working in three separate countries, identified from a total of three empirical studies (Deasy et al., 2014Schluter et al., 2012Watson et al., 2006). Substances used included tobacco, alcohol and cannabis. Problem substance use was broadly linked to longer working hours and coping with work-related stress via escape avoidance. Whilst the reasons for PSU remained unclear in the survey study by Watson et al. (2006), inferences are made by the authors that this coincided with local promotional ‘student nights’, where alcohol is discounted in price.”

person making cannabis joint

To follow on from this review, we have collected data on PSU from midwives practising in the United kingdom. We hope to publish our results from this soon. You can follow our work on substance use in midwifery populations via this project page.

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

Until next time…Look after yourselves and each other 💚💙💜❤


Deasy et al., 2014 – C. Deasy, B. Coughlan, J. Pironom, D. Jourdan, P. Mannix-McNamaraPsychological distress and coping amongst higher education students: a mixed method enquiry. PLoS ONE, 9 (2014), pp. 1-23


Kenna and Wood, 2004 – G.A. Kenna, M.D. WoodAlcohol use by healthcare professionals. Drug Alcohol Depend., 75 (2004), pp. 107-116

Schluter et al., 2012 – P.J. Schluter, C. Turner, C. BeneferLong working hours and alcohol risk among Australian and New Zealand nurses and midwives: a cross-sectional study. Int. J. Nurs. Stud., 49 (2012), pp. 701-709

Watson et al., 2006 – H. Watson, R. Whyte, E. Schartau, E. JamiesonSurvey of student nurses and midwives: smoking and alcohol use. Br. J. Nurs., 15 (2006), pp. 1212-1216




Weenink et al., 2017 – J.W. Weenink, R.B. Kool, R.H. Bartels, G.P. WestertGetting back on track: a systematic review of the outcomes of remediation and rehabilitation programmes for healthcare professionals with performance concerns. BMJ Qual. Saf., 26 (2017), pp. 1004-1014