A passion to help new mothers and a desire to improve Aboriginal health has resulted in Margaret Martin of High Wycombe becoming the first Indigenous student to graduate with a midwifery degree from Curtin University.
Ms Martin, 27, who was born and raised in Derby, joins only the second group of students to graduate from Curtin’s Bachelor of Science (Midwifery), which is WA’s only direct-entry midwifery degree.
“For me, becoming a midwife is a calling, not just a career,” Ms Martin said.
“I want to focus on pregnancy care for Aboriginal women, and help to make their birthing experiences as positive as possible.”
Breaking new ground is something of a family trait, as Ms Martin’s mother is Labor MP, Carol Martin, who was the first Indigenous woman to be voted into an Australian parliament.
“Mum has always said to me that anything is possible, if you set your mind to it,” Ms Martin said.
“One of my biggest challenges was juggling university with my family of four small children, with the youngest born during my studies. But I was determined to finish.
“I have met some amazing new mothers during my course, and feel very privileged to have shared their birthing experiences, which is a moment that will stay in their memories forever.
“The feeling I get after helping a woman give birth to her baby is just so amazing, it is like watching a miracle take place. The first breath, the first time the mother looks down at her newborn and smiles, it is so beautiful.”
The three-year full-time Bachelor of Science (Midwifery) degree requires students to birth at least 40 babies and complete at least 1,500 hours of clinical practice. The students also experience a variety of clinical placements such as community, clinics, hospitals, birthing centres and in the mother’s home to ensure they are job-ready by the time they graduate.
“I have been lucky to secure a position as a midwife at Armadale Hospital and I am really looking forward to gaining more work experience,” she said.
Keen to improve the healthcare experiences of Aboriginal women, Ms Martin has also been invited to speak to a number of health, midwife and community groups and midwifery students to discuss the cultural aspects of childbearing for Aboriginal women.
Jennifer Wood, Curtin University’s Bachelor of Science (Midwifery) course coordinator said Ms Martin provided a greater insight into the challenges of being an Aboriginal woman in the current maternity system.
“Ms Martin’s first-hand knowledge of the current maternity system and her understanding of Aboriginal culture is very valuable to the other midwifery students,” she said.
Curtin’s midwifery degree combines evidence-based theory and clinical practice.
“Students start their clinical experience in the first semester and attend clinical placements in a wide range of community and hospital settings, in both the metropolitan and rural areas,” Ms Wood said.
“The midwife’s work may be clinical, research or policy-based and can involve other aspects of women’s health, sexual or reproductive health, lactation consultancy and childcare – those who have a highly developed knowledge base and clinical skills, are in demand both nationally and internationally.”
The course is designed to meet the national midwifery education standards, leading to initial registration as a midwife with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).
Ms Martin graduated on Tuesday 21 February 2012 at a ceremony held at Curtin’s Bentley campus.
Kristy Jones, Public Relations, Curtin University
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