“I may be an old dog, but I am still capable of learning new tricks”: reflections of an older midwife

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Midwife Annette reflects on the difficulties of finding work as an older midwife. After 42 years in the system, her experience is truly heart-breaking. 

Today for the first time in many years I had to fill in a job application. I have been a nurse for 42 years and a midwife for nearly 30. I did my general training through the old hospital training system. I wear this badge of honour with pride. Today when I was filling out the NSW health job application form, in answer to the question about education I wrote Prince Henry, Prince of Wales and Eastern Suburbs Hospitals and to the question of academic award I wrote registered nurse. I did this innocently and honestly. Apparently, this is not good enough for NSW Health as neither of these answers were recognised. To say that I am disgusted and offended is putting it lightly. I don’t usually talk about nurses and midwives saving lives but now I am shouting it loudly.

I have spent 42 years saving lives and in my nearly 30 years as a midwife I have saved the lives of countless mothers and babies. I have done this despite not having trained in a university and more often than not by picking up mistakes made by people with many years of university training. The ability to walk into a room and know something is wrong doesn’t come from a university education but from years of experience at the coalface.

When new graduate midwives and nurses come to the wards for the first time it is the experienced nurses and midwives who share their skills and years of experience with them.

Then I came to the questions about core values and respect. I absolutely support the core values and believe that all our patients deserve the utmost respect, but how about some respect for the nurses and midwives who constantly work short-staffed and without meal breaks? Or some respect for the nurses and midwives who trained under the old hospital training system whose training is now not even recognised in the job application process?

I may be an old dog with a bad back and a leaky bladder but I am still capable of learning new tricks and I believe that not despite training in the old hospital system but because of it I still have a lot to offer.

This article was originally posted in the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association publication, Lamp. To join, visit their website.

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