Case study: "I worked as a clinical midwife for ten years before becoming a research midwife"
We're putting a spotlight on nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (AHPs) in research. In this piece, Andrea Smith, a midwife at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, shares the story of her career.
How did you first get involved in research?
I worked as a clinical midwife for ten years before becoming a research midwife.
When my original maternity hospital was closing down in 2015, we were looking around different hospitals in the north west London area to see where we wanted to work next. None of us wanted our hospital to close so we were despondent on many of these visits. On one of them we were walking as a group from the labour ward to the antenatal clinic when we passed a door saying "Research Midwives". I had never heard of this as a career before and my interest was piqued.
From then on, I looked out for any research roles in my new hospital, and on my second time of applying I got the job.
"I love that it suits my current life and gives me a much better life and work balance."
What has been the highlight of your research career so far?
The variety of experiences — it changes every day. I am also lucky that I attend conferences three times a year and always collaborate on a presentation.
I love that it suits my current life and gives me a much better life and work balance.
What skills do you think are needed for a career in research?
Similar to midwifery; communication, listening, interacting with women, birthing people and their families, asking and answering questions, team work.
"All of our decisions in healthcare come from some form of research, we just forget this."
Why do you believe research is important?
All of our decisions in healthcare come from some form of research, we just forget this. We have new tests, new ways of caring and looking after our women and birthing people — and they all originally come from a piece of research.
What are your plans and ambitions for the future?
I feel I have found my happy place — part time working on three separate studies means I am never bored and the pace suits me.
I used to also do clinical bank shifts and it was a very good balance, but health issues mean that I now only do the research, which suits me very well.