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Midwives experience domestic abuse too…so how can they be supported in the workplace?

On Thursday October 4th 2018, The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) launched a report entitled ‘Safe Places? Workplace Support for those Experiencing Domestic Abuse’ at its Annual Conference in Manchester Central.

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I was privileged to be asked to perform and write up the analysis for this report. The findings truly moved me. If you know my work at all, you will know that it is heavily focused upon securing the psychological wellbeing of midwives. This is because I do not believe that excellence in maternity care can be delivered to mothers and babies without the provision of effective support for midwives.

Findings here revealed that some midwives trained to recognise domestic abuse and support women, were sometimes not recognising that they themselves are victims of domestic abuse.

“I was allowed to stay overnight on my delivery suite to avoid going home to my abusive partner”

“I was made to feel I was a nuisance, constantly asking me and contacting me, pressurizing me in to coming back to work. I gave in and did but I was soon off again as I still wasn’t well, and I then left midwifery because I didn’t want to be dismissed. I didn’t receive any support that was effective for me”

“I have and was been treated very badly by my place of work, absolutely no support or care and compassion”

“I was given a specific senior midwife who I could go to for support, to discuss things at times when home was particularly bad and to deal with any sickness absence – helpful as one person knew what was going on and I could be truthful, especially about the reasons for sickness absence sometimes”

“All staff should be asked about domestic abuse or violence on a regular basis”

“Police and social services were unhelpful, and no support provided. Neither I nor my children were offered counselling or directed to appropriate services despite asking several times for help. One police officer even commented that due to my ethnicity I could handle the situation myself.”

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Based on the findings the RCM has put forward the following evidence-based recommendations. These will enable maternity service managers and NHS Trusts/Boards to support staff experiencing domestic abuse more effectively.

  • All NHS Trusts/Health Boards should develop specific policies to support who are victims of domestic abuse, aligned to existing guidance from the NHS Staff Council developed in 2017.
  • NHS Trusts/Health Boards should provide and publicise confidential domestic abuse support services for affected staff, including access to IDVAs, external counselling and legal services as appropriate.
  • NHS Trusts/Health Boards should ensure that all managers and supervisors are trained on domestic abuse issues, so that they can recognise signs of domestic abuse in their staff and confidently undertake their safeguarding obligations.
  •  NHS Trusts/Health Boards should ensure that staff at all levels are trained on domestic abuse issues and made aware of relevant workplace policies as part of their induction programme and continuous updating and are made aware of support services.

It was a pleasure to work with esteemed colleagues at the RCM to put this report together. Midwives and maternity support workers are a highly valued workforce whom we rely on to provide optimal care for mothers and babies. It is our sincere hope that this report will enable maternity service managers and NHS Trusts/Boards to support staff experiencing domestic abuse more effectively.

“Thank you to all of the midwives and maternity support workers who took part in this survey. The wellbeing of maternity staff is intrinsically linked with the safety and quality of maternity services. Your thoughts, feelings and experiences have helped us to arrive at a deeper understanding of the resources required to support those experiencing domestic abuse.”

woman carrying newborn baby

If you would like to follow the progress of work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

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Being Examined: Tips for your viva

This wisdom comes from the 10th annual ‘Life beyond the PhD’ conference () hosted at Cumberland Lodge. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend and gather a multitude of hints and tips for my academic career…Now I plan to share them here for those who wish to read them…I have also experienced a viva voce examination…so these viva tips also come from me too.

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What is a viva voce?

In a nutshell it is the oral assessment of your PhD Thesis.

So your first viva tip would be….know how a PhD/doctorate/thesis is defined!…Here is a sample of some of the key phrases and expressions relating to ‘doctorateness’:

  • worthy of publication either in full or abridged form;

  • presents a thesis embodying the results of the research;

  • original work which forms an addition to knowledge;

  • makes a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and offers evidence of originality shown by the discovery of new facts and/or the exercise of independent critical power;

  • shows evidence of systematic study and the ability to relate the results of such study to the general body of knowledge in the subject;

  • the thesis should be a demonstrably coherent body of work;

  • shows evidence of adequate industry and application;

  • understands the relationship of the special theme of the thesis to a wider field of knowledge;

  • represents a significant contribution to learning, for example, through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of older views;

  • provides originality and independent critical ability and must contain matter suitable for publication;

  • adequate knowledge of the field of study;

  • competence in appropriate methods of performance and recording of research;

  • ability in style and presentation;

  • the dissertation is clearly written;

  • takes account of previously published work on the subject.

Source: Searching for ‘Doctorateness’.

The problem is…..that a range of literature has pointed out the variability in examination processes across universities, individual examiners, disciplines. Yup, this can be a fairly subjective process. So it is your job within your thesis and within your viva to make your case and convince your examiners that your work is indeed doctoral work.

Within Wellington’s (2013) framework for assessing ‘Doctorateness’, there are seven categories listed for which doctorates may contribute original knowledge. Therefore, in order for ‘Doctorateness’ to be unequivocally established for your thesis, it is important to apply the categories of this framework to each component of your research. The table below was added to my own thesis in order to prove how and why my work was indeed doctoral work.

Category number Category description Evidence
1 Building new knowledge, e.g. by extending previous work or ‘putting a new brick in the wall’. The Delphi method has been used previously to assess the workplace needs of midwifery populations (Hauck, Bayes and Robertson 2012). Yet the views and opinions of an expert panel about the design and development of an online intervention designed to support midwives in work-related psychological distress have been gathered and presented for the first time within this thesis.
2 Using original processes or approaches, e.g. applying new methods or techniques to an existing area of study. As the Delphi study presented within this thesis was a modified one, where the identity of experts remained unknown to the researcher, and free text response options accompanied each statement, it has also applied somewhat original processes and approaches to an existing area of study.

 

3 Creating new syntheses, e.g. connecting previous studies or linking existing theories or previous thinkers. Chapter one presents the first narrative review to integrate studies of midwives in work-related psychological distress (Pezaro et al. 2015). This original knowledge demonstrates how midwives working in rural, poorly resourced areas who experience neonatal and maternal death more frequently can experience death anxieties, where midwives working in urban and well-resourced areas do not. This creation of new syntheses connects previous studies and existing theories together to form new knowledge.

 

The mixed-methods systematic review presented within chapter three is the first of its kind to collate and present the current and available evidence in relation to existing interventions targeted to support midwives in work-related psychological distress (Pezaro, Clyne and Fulton 2017).

 

4 Exploring new implications, for either practitioners, policy makers, or theory and theorists. Chapter two makes an original contribution to ethical decision making, and may be extrapolated and applied to other healthcare professions who may also now consider the provision of confidential support online.
5 Revisiting a recurrent issue or debate, e.g. by offering new evidence, new thinking, or new theory. The original research presented in chapter two contributes to an ongoing academic dialogue in relation to ethical decision making.
6 Replicating or reproducing earlier work, e.g. from a different place or time, or with a different sample. The mixed-methods systematic review, presented in chapter three somewhat replicates earlier work from a different place, time, and with a different inclusion sample (Shaw, Downe and Kingdon 2015).

 

7 Presenting research in a novel way, e.g. new ways of writing, presenting, disseminating. The results of this research have been disseminated via popular media publications throughout. A further summary of this research is planned for publication. Furthermore, this research has also informed new guidance, published by the Royal College of Midwives, who also present the findings of this research in a new way. This new guidance is intended to guide heads of midwifery to support midwives experiencing work-related stress. Evidence of this can be found in Appendix 15.

 

Adapting this table to fit your own work should assist you in realizing how your own research can be argued to be doctoral work, both in your thesis and in your viva. Once this argument is clear in your own mind, your confidence should rise and enable you to direct your thoughts towards a really positive goal. Getting your PhD!…and not just because you want it, but because you are worthy of it! You have worked really hard for this opportunity, and seeing your work match up to this framework can really help you to visualize your successes. But now there are other things you can do to help you prepare…

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Viva tips

Just because you have submitted your thesis, this does not mean you can sit back a relax until your viva day. Following a short break, and with fresh eyes, you should be revisiting your thesis and getting to know it really well. Also, be sure to keep up to date with any new research arising in your field, it may well be discussed in your viva!

Get to know your university’s policies and procedures. This will help you to prepare for how the viva voce may play out on the day. As your examiners will be drawing upon their own expertise, make sure that you also have a broad knowledge of their work!

Pick your battles. Fighting every point can be really jarring for everyone in the room, and your examiners need to see that you can accept constructive criticism and reflect. Decide what you will really defend, and what you are willing to let go of. This means that you will need to anticipate what your examiners may ask you. Here, it is a good idea to mock up some practice questions. Try defending the questions you fear most. This will help you to face your demons and formulate your arguments….constructively. An extra tip here would be to record yourself arguing your points. How do you sound? are you believable? How do you come across?

Having your supervisor with you can be very reassuring and comforting, although they may well not be allowed to speak during your viva voce. However, try to have them sit next to you or behind you, as eye contact or some other gestures, however well meaning may put you off your game.

Once you get to the viva, be prepared to break the ice. Your examiners are not ogres. They want you to pass! Starting your viva with a warm greeting can set the tone for the session, so don’t start with your defensive wall up too high! You can also set the scene with a short presentation to cover some broad points you anticipate coming up. Use this time to also show your knowledge and demonstrate your own unique way of thinking and working.

If there has been a long gap between your thesis submission and your viva, you may now have moved on to new ways of thinking or changed your original work to move on to a new project. Remember that this new work does not count in your viva. You must remain focused on what you submitted.

If the discussion moves to really complex debates, it is important to keep your cool, remain professional and don’t turn into a robot who has learnt their responses off by heart. Also, don’t be overly humble or point out your own weaknesses directly…if they are raised by the examiners, then you can show respectful considerations to other methods, but it is still important not to shoot yourself in the foot.

Your viva can last a good few hours…it is basically a brain marathon! So you will need to prepare both mentally and physically. This means de-stressing, eating and sleeping well…and generally giving time to your own self care regime. If you need a break during the session, don’t be afraid to ask for one. If you feel overwhelmed at any time, take a constructive pause to write or read and deliberate. It can’t be an extremely emotional and draining experience.

However, some people can enjoy their viva. After all, you will be speaking about your own work with experts in the field for some time. This is a chance to show off, be proud of what you have achieved and even learn more! Thinking in this positive way may make the viva experience not seem so daunting.

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I personally found my own viva experience very daunting, emotional and stressful. However, my examiners were not ogres…they too wanted me to pass and to help me make the best of my work… Following the submission of my revised thesis, I realized how much better my thesis now is because of this viva process and the input of my examiners. Having now gone beyond the viva process, I believe that I have truly earned my PhD. I worked hard for it. It didn’t come easy. It was a brain marathon. But would a PhD really be worth having if it was easy to achieve?

I can also now reflect on this process and learn from it. It is an experience that will certainly stay with me and enrich my future work. I hope it will also enable me to improve my own examination and supervisory skills in future.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

 

 

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5 career tips for a successful academic application

This wisdom comes from the 10th annual ‘Life beyond the PhD’ conference () hosted at Cumberland Lodge. I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to attend and gather a multitude of hints and tips for my academic career…Now I plan to share them here for those who wish to read them…

Tip One: Potential employers will want to know how they will benefit from having you work with them as much as, if not more than, how you will benefit from working with them. Why should they invest their money in you? Will they be able to tolerate you on a daily basis? This means that you will need to come across as unselfish, and avoid saying the same thing as everyone else…be different!

Tip Two: Avoid jargon, and make sure you back up your claims with lived examples! For instance..It is no use saying that your I.T skills are fabulous if you don’t back this up with a real lived example of how you have used your I.T skills to do something of real value.

Tip Three: A potential employer will only take a few seconds to scan your CV. Therefore, you need to cut out the gimmicks, reduce it to no more than a couple of pages and make sure that you have used clear and easy to read formatting. Everything on your CV should be in reverse chronological order, and tailored to the job you are applying for. Your cover letter should never be a replication of your CV, yet it should hold lived examples of the skills you have presented.

Tip four: Within your interview,  it will not necessarily matter what answer you give to any awkward interview questions, as long as your answers are void of generic jargon and backed up with a sound rationale for your choice. Also, it is important not to pretend that either you or your research is impervious to failure…what matters is how you handle things and learn.

Tip five: Be yourself, and be honest about any career gaps…being evasive over these issues will only arouse suspicions…the truth is always far more welcome….It’s often not as big a deal as you think, and a good employer will appreciate what you are planning to do to get back on track.

For further hints and tips see this early career researcher blog.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

 

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The #QualWorld2017 Virtual international conference, hosted by the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (@theIIQM)

The virtual international conference, hosted by the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM)  is the first online conference focused on the subject of qualitative research. I gravitated towards this as something new, exciting and inclusive. Plus, as my new daughter has just been born….a virtual online conference seemed to be the perfect way to share my latest work and breastfeed at the same time.

The poster I presented was:

Exploring the perceptions of new mother’s in relation to psychological distress and workplace support in midwifery. A Patient and Public Involvement study

I was representing The Centre for Innovative Research Across the Life Course at Coventry University. This work was formed in partnership with Dr. Gemma Pearce and Dr. Elizabeth Bailey, also from Coventry University.

Qual-World Interactive Virtual Conference

The conference theme was: Qualitative Research Across Boundaries

Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Amanda Kenny, La Trobe University, Australia
Prof. Trish Greenhalgh, University of Oxford, UK
Prof. Martyn Hammersley, The Open University, UK
Prof. Babette Babich, Fordham University, The Jesuit University of New York City

Here are a few snapshots of the keynote speeches…

As an early career researcher (post-doc) I really appreciated the insights shared in relation to progressing an academic career and thriving in a research centre. The idea that collaborations and publications can be planned to achieve maximum impact really appeals to me…. a few hints and tips in the right direction were very welcome.

I have yet to use or explore storytelling and narratives in my research career thus far in any great depth. As such, it was really inspiring to see how these have been used in other qualitative work. Ethnography is also an area fairly new to me, and so being introduced to new topics in this way really helped me to digest and think about new directions for my own research.

Then, to  fall in love with philosophy again was wonderful…looking at what makes science….science….within the terminology of the postmodern? Lot’s to think about here. And certainly lot’s to discuss. The online chat room was on the go throughout the conference, and on Twitter. The conversations really made me think about my own future directions in research and how it may be grounded.

Yet the best thing about this conference for me was the fact that it has been so accessible for me. Having just had a new baby girl, this conference gave me the chance to share new findings from our PPI study from the comfort of home. This meant that I could care for my baby and breastfeed whilst not missing out on the career I love. Thank you to the conference organizers for making this possible. …and thank you to the Centre for Innovative Research Across the Life Course for funding my place.

As you can see, this tweet of my experience was the most popular one of the conference… I think that these accessible conferences are really making history and showing the way for future conferences of this type.

In conclusion…I would like to reiterate the following tweet:

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

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Top tips for #FreshersWeek #freshers2017 #Uni #StudentLife from an academic midwife

Tis that time of year again when students from all over the world descend upon university campuses to embark upon a fun filled journey of learning, adventure and growth.

Having been in education now for a number of years, I think this must be close to my tenth freshers week! Every year I get the same buzzy feeling of excitement as the freshers week commences…

(Unless that is the same feeling of excitement you get when Santa is coming…oh come on…Autumn…I am already thinking about the festive season!)

The streets are full of vibrant things to do and get involved in…people are making friends and connections and everyone is ready to take on a new challenge in life!

The sad thing is…whether I wear my student ID badge, or my staff ID badge..I am seemingly passed by when the invites for the foam parties and other nights out are being dished out…(grump)!…hmm…I wonder why? 🤔🎓 Maybe it will be different this year…and if you do see me on campus…I would love to hear about your plans!

I will be involved in the #CovHLSFreshers Twitter takeover this year..Ooh..snazzy!

 

As well as other survival guides out there, I wanted to share some of my own hints and tips for freshers.

Tip One:

No matter how scared or excited you are during freshers week….I think there are a few quotes that you should memorize and repeat to yourself in times of need….

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Tip Two:

Remember that there is no need to justify your course choice to anyone but yourself. This is your journey, your life now….trust yourself to make your own life choices. You got this!

Tip Three:

Find your tribe….Not necessarily those who look and talk like you…but those who will hear your voice, sing with you and lift you up. This could be your relevant student society or Twitter community..it could even be those you meet through doing what you love….hold on tight to these people for the ride…and make sure to lift each other up!

Tip Four:

Document your journey and take time to reflect. This experience will be over all too quickly and it’s going to be amazing! reflecting will help you to be mindful about your own situation and recognize your own achievements as your hard work pays off. Be grateful for 1 thing every day…however big or small…and celebrate the achievements of yourself and others every chance you get.

Tip Five:

Look after yourself. Self care can make your university experience a million times better. Take breaks, help yourself before you help others…and as for romance……

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See->

10 Tips for Success & Self-Care for Academics

Category Archives: Student Tips 🎓

❤Welcome all!❤

See you on campus!

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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

 

 

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Five Myths about Internationalization in higher education

Freshers week is almost upon us again this year at Coventry University and I am learning to teach!…So I wanted to reflect on and celebrate the diversity of students coming to study.

 

I have always enjoyed the vibrancy and wealth of knowledge that international students bring to universities…and when you are indulging in a new topic of interest, international students can bring a wealth of new and insightful knowledge to the table…from around the world! But there are a few myths about internationalization that I wanted to reflect on with the help of Jane Knight. These myths apply to all higher academic institutions, and of course there are always exceptions to every rule.

MYTH ONE: FOREIGN STUDENTS AS INTERNATIONALIZATION AGENTS

“A long-standing myth is that more foreign students on campus will produce
more internationalized institutional culture and curriculum. “

In fact, unless there are bespoke programmes targeted towards international students, divisions and factions will often provide a more secular experience on campus. The rationale for internationalizing a university campus is often well intended, but new strategies will be required to turn this vision into practice. To reflect on this, there may be some scope to include international students in blended learning sessions prior to their arrival on campus. Perhaps a buddying system with domestic students may also enhance the learning experience, as international students will also be adapting to a new life outside of the classroom at first.

MYTH TWO: INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION AS A PROXY FOR QUALITY

Internationalization does not always translate into improved quality or high standards. This means that we, as teachers may need to find new ways to evaluate the quality of our outputs with a view to making real world improvements. This means acting on student feedback at a personal level to understand what is happening on the shop floor. Improvements will not appear automatically, but rather than just hoping for the best….PDSA cycles may be of use when making such improvements.

 

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MYTH THREE: INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENTS

It is often believed that the greater number of international agreements or
network memberships a university has the more prestigious and attractive it is to
other institutions and students

To maintain active and fruitful relationships, major investments are required in human and financial resources from individual faculty members, departments, and international university offices. This is not always feasible to maintain. Therefore, it will be key to develop a few deep and meaningful international relationships or partnerships rather than create many paper based partnerships which may not always best serve our students, staff and/or institutions.

MYTH FOUR: INTERNATIONAL ACCREDITATION

The premise is that, the more international accreditation stars
an institution has, the more internationalized it is and ergo the better it is. But a foreign recognition of quality does not necessarily speak to the scope, scale, or value of international activities related to teaching/learning, research. Again, it will only be via the creation of deep and meaningful real-world relationships that meaningful connections can be made between quality and reaping the rewards of international partnerships.

MYTH FIVE: GLOBAL BRANDING

It is a myth that an international marketing scheme is the equivalent of an internationalization plan.

An international marketing campaign is a promotion and branding exercise…an internationalization plan is a strategy to integrate an international, intercultural, and global dimension into the goals and teaching, research, and service functions of a university. In teaching international students, it may be more important to focus on the internationalization plan, as this is what may result in the better student and staff experience within the university. Then again, of course it depends on what university policies and strategies set out to achieve.

Personally, I would like to spend my time in higher education creating small numbers of really meaningful international relationships rather than collaborate with large numbers of international students and institutions. Whilst large numbers may look better on paper, superficial relationships will not translate into value, quality or high standards in academia.

People work better when they are connected through things that matter, and in order to reap the rewards of an international student community, we must all make connections that matter. It is focusing on the few important relationships that will enable us to listen, plan, do and act better in higher education.

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Further reading:

Knight, Jane. “Five myths about internationalization.” International Higher Education 62 (2015).

Beine, Michel, Romain Noël, and Lionel Ragot. “Determinants of the international mobility of students.” Economics of Education review 41 (2014): 40-54.

Soria, Krista M., and Jordan Troisi. “Internationalization at home alternatives to study abroad: Implications for students’ development of global, international, and intercultural competencies.” Journal of Studies in International Education 18.3 (2014): 261-280.

Sin, Sei-Ching Joanna, and Kyung-Sun Kim. “International students’ everyday life information seeking: The informational value of social networking sites.” Library & Information Science Research 35.2 (2013): 107-116.

If you would like to follow the progress of my work going forward..

Follow me via @SallyPezaroThe Academic MidwifeThis blog

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