Katie Watkins talks about her unique role as a Integrated Digital Midwife at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Why I wanted to become a midwife
Midwifery wasn’t on my radar at all when I left college. I wanted to work in London for any large corporate company and in order to do so I decided to do a Mathematics degree. Once I had graduated and was applying for jobs, I realised the private sector was not for me. I wanted to be working with people and I wanted to feel like the work I was doing made a real difference. I had always been fascinated by pregnancy and childbirth so thought I would give it a go. I very quickly found a passion for it and realised this was what I should have pursued all along.
How my career has developed
I began my training in 2013 and qualified in 2016 as a band five Midwife. After a year of consolidating my practice I moved to band six and was beginning to think about how to progress in my career beyond that. I still loved caring for women but felt that I could improve the service women received in other ways. I started working 50% of the time as an IT Midwife in February this year, developing digital systems and ensuring data quality, and found a little sector of the midwifery world that I felt I could make a real difference. I saw an opportunity to become the band seven Lead Digital Midwife at Wexham and started my new role here five weeks ago.
My typical day
I work weekdays in my office and clinically on labour ward twice a month. When in the office I ensure the data that is collected digitally each day throughout a women’s journey in the unit is true and accurate. This data will go on to be submitted to the government to help shape the future service for women and ensure the funding is distributed appropriately. I assist midwives with any issues they face with the maternity system (as things become more and more digital in the NHS, this is a necessity) and will help extract any data from the maternity system that management may need. On a bigger scale, I assist with the development and distribution of new digital systems.
How I’ve made a difference as a midwife?
Everyone is always surprised to hear there’s such a thing as a digital midwife and are often confused why this would be a path that would be interesting to a midwife. But the care women receive can be hugely improved by developing our digital systems. If we can ensure seamless, smooth running of technology, then midwives spend less time trying to work the system and more time with the women.
Technology can allow us to work together with different departments and ensure the sharing of vital information to provide connected care for our patients. I have had to quickly learn how to liaise with people from all over the trust; management, data analysts, clinical coders ensuring that we are all working towards the same goal. You have to have a real eye for detail and an analytical way of working through processes to determine what is necessary and what could be made more efficient, all whilst considering the cost implications.
What would you say to someone interested in a career in midwifery?
Being a midwife is a special privilege. There is nothing quite like knowing that you’ve been part of the journey to a woman and her family bringing life into the world. Even being part of the tragic side of midwifery is incredibly rewarding, as the impact you can have in these situations will often be remembered by the family forever. Beyond the clinical care of women, there is such a variety of career paths you can take within midwifery that people are very rarely aware of. There is always opportunity to be developed professionally and the options are honestly endless.