Session 10

Surviving life in the NHS: study well, build resilience, stay healthy, make a difference
Jo Killingley, Senior Lecturer Midwifery, Middlesex University London
David Westley, Director of Programmes Psychology, Middlesex University London

Attrition in university student midwives, preceptor midwives (Killingley 2016) and early leavers remain a significant problem, creating more pressure on the remaining depleted workforce. Resilience is a main contributing factor to why student midwives leave their education and midwives leave their profession; therefore resilience education should be embedded into the curriculum in Higher Education Institutions (Warren and Hunter 2014). We plan to combine the Study Well module designed by the psychology department into the current model of personal tutor support and incorporating into the practice element of study.

Session summary:
Health promotion has been high on the agenda in every aspect of the NHS service provision in an attempt to educate the population for a healthier lifestyle with the intention of a reduction in ill health; more recently the focus is on mental health affecting today’s population. Unfortunately the wellbeing of those who provide the care have yet to be identified in this agenda.

The student well module was produced in recognition that students found the stress of learning high pressured. New challenges can sometimes bring stress, uncertainty and worry. In addition, life outside of University carries on, and may present its own stresses and challenges while studying.
Unfortunately, stress can’t be prevented, it is an inevitable part of just about everyone’s life, but help can prepare student midwives for times that are difficult (in the clinical areas and theoretical pressures) by enhancing their wellbeing and resilience while they study at University. The study well module is designed to enhance the students happiness and well-being. The activities and exercises form part of the programme derive from scientific evidence regarding ways to strengthen physical, psychological and social wellbeing.

The programme works from the philosophy that positive change takes time, and the best way to build resilience and well-being is through small changes to your routines and habits. Therefore, a number of small steps (available on a  learning platform which all our students have access to) is designed to enhance wellbeing in a specific area of life. Every step is designed to bring benefits and more resilience on its own. However, since areas of the students’ lives are interconnected the more areas they make changes within, the stronger the overall happiness, well-being and potential to meet the goals that they set for themselves. The steps are put into a suggested order, but the students are free to try them in any order they see fit. It is suggested to try to avoid doing too much in one go (enforcing the message that change takes time!). Each step that is taken is one step further forward in building a happier, healthier and more resilient ‘student’.

The main aim is to engage the students to believe that well-being is not a strategy or process to use in times of anxiety or stress; that it should be linked with who they are, be self-aware and complete their programme armed with coping mechanisms, skills and awareness for themselves to thrive in heights of activity and be the best they can for women and families, but most importantly to remain healthy and happy.

The module will be embedded into the practice element of the students programme and built into the reflective aspects of each session. The plan will be to reflect on clinical experience and use the study well module as a catalyst to build resilience.

Attendee feedback:
Jo Killingley, senior lecturer in Midwifery, and Dr David Westley, programme leader in Psychology, describe a programme of personal mindfulness for students, which has been called “Study Well”. Based on research into students’ coping abilities, their mental health, when at university, the materials aim to address students’ anxiety and depression when studying, to improve their resilience.

The materials have been developed on My Learning, the university’s virtual learning environment, and have been taken up by Jo Killingley to help the students in her Midwifery programme.

David Westley opened the session describing the background theory of Study Well, the practical steps in the programme, and future developments.

Jo described the high attrition of midwifery students, the reasons for their leaving, and her desire to address these issues. In implementing Study Well, Jo intends to evaluate it as part of her Ph.D. research.