When Melanie Oliver began her Midwifery degree she thought it would be all about healthy babies and joyous births.
By her second year, she discovered she had been "a little naive".
"People often aren't aware of the potential for emergencies in pregnancy and birth until they are exposed to it," she said. "Once we started clinical placements I felt that huge responsibility when you are expected to be in control".
While there were lots of "lovely babies and learning from midwives who came to be role models" she was also exposed to "all the things that can go wrong".
However she emphasised that midwives do work in teams with other health professionals and any emergency is dealt with by the whole team.
Melanie completed the Bachelor of Midwifery degree at Monash's Peninsula campus last year and has recently begun working in the Women's Health Unit at Frankston Hospital.
She said the course had been a "massive learning curve" that did not end when she graduated.
"When I first started clinical placements I thought I'd never manage it," Melanie said. "But I look at the students coming into the hospital now and I can see how far I have come."
At Frankston Hospital she continues to learn from dealing with complications such as premature births and preeclampsia. She has also been exposed to difficult issues arising from caring for mothers with mental health problems.
In some cases women require psychiatric reviews before they are allowed to go home, and in cases where the Department of Human Services have previously removed children, the mother may need to prove that she able to care for her baby before taking them home.
"It has been very different to my expectations, but the staff have been very supportive and I am continuing to learn so much."
Her favourite part of the job was the opportunity to provide ‘continuity of care'. The hospital encourages midwives to provide care to women during labour and birth and, whenever possible, to continue to care for the same family in the postnatal period.
Melanie had always wanted a career in health, and with an interest in women's health and pregnancy, decided to pursue a career in midwifery.
She researched a number of university courses and chose Monash because the "teachers were so positive" and the "School had a great reputation".
Melanie's plans for her future career include working in antenatal education and advocacy, lactation consulting, and eventually returning to university to complete a masters degree in midwifery.
"There are so many opportunities," she said. "But in the meantime it is a real privilege to care for women at such an important moment in their life."