On International Day of the Midwife, staff at the School of Nursing and Midwifery would like to congratulate all its Midwifery graduates for their contribution to the health and wellbeing of pregnant women, newborn babies and their families in Australia and internationally.
Monash graduates are highly regarded in the healthcare industry and enjoy an extremely high employment rate. Midwifery graduates are currently working in a range of maternity care settings from tertiary level midwifery units to remote Aboriginal communities to home birth pilot programs.
Many have influenced the clinical sites where they are employed by challenging traditional practices and facilitating evidence-based practice.
At the School’s Gippsland campus, students are often interested in rural health. Graduates frequently work in regional hospitals, in shared care with local GPs, with midwives in teams and specialised programs. A few have searched out opportunities to experience remote communities where they practice in small teams with nurses or the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
As part of the Graduate Diploma of Midwifery at Gippsland, students must be employed by a maternity service while they study. To complete their qualification they undertake a research project that looks at an aspect of midwifery practice they believe could be improved.
Course coordinator Maureen Miles said that many graduates introduce the improvements they have researched to their clinical practice, with some making “enormous differences to their place of employment”.
She offers Lauren Staley – who introduced a new model of care into the maternity service at Foster Hospital – as an example.
“Lauren has been a significant player and instigator of change in practice for midwives at Foster,” she said. “We now invite her to teach into both the undergraduate and postgraduate program.”
Another graduate who has been invited to return to the School to address current students is Laura Zarpellon who completed the Bachelor of Midwifery at the Peninsula campus.
Laura works at Quit developing programs and training midwives to help pregnant women quit smoking and remain smoke-free after their babies are born.
While no longer working directly with pregnant women and babies, Laura has found great career satisfaction improving women’s health through education and advocacy.
Other graduates have won awards for their work, such as Gloria Forys who was recently awarded a national prize for her work in establishing a Well Women’s Clinic at two practice sites in Gippsland.
A number of graduates practice midwifery in third-world countries such as Papua New Guinea, often in very different conditions to their colleagues in Australia. In PNG there is a much lower rate of caesarean births; formula feeding is banned due to the difficulty sterilising bottles; and infants can be exposed to diseases such as tetanus (caused by rusty equipment or infection) or cholera.
Despite the wide range of employment opportunities, all of the School’s Midwifery graduates share a passion for the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and babies, and many express great satisfaction and “sense of privilege” in providing maternity care.
The School of Nursing and Midwifery is proud of all its Midwifery graduates and encourages them all to continue their important work caring, educating, advocating and improving models of care for women, babies and families.
Midwifery graduate profiles: Laura Zarpellon, Melanie Oliver and Lauren Staley.