Gunnedah welcomes first student midwife

CHANGE OF COURSE: Registered nurse Deb McDonald is now the first student midwife at the Gunnedah Hospital, pictured with newborn baby Hudson McLoughlin.

CHANGE OF COURSE: Registered nurse Deb McDonald is now the first student midwife at the Gunnedah Hospital, pictured with newborn baby Hudson McLoughlin.

Gunnedah Hospital has welcomed its first student midwife as part of a NSW Health scholarship program to encourage skill development in registered nurses.

Local registered nurse Deb McDonald was keen to change her nursing direction so applied for a scholarship allowing a midwifery placement in a rural hospital.

She was successful in the process and received a Rural Postgraduate Midwifery Student Scholarship and has begun placement on the Gunnedah maternity ward, with her first delivery of a baby boy last week.

“It’s a passion. I was at the birth of two of my grandchildren and I just thought how nice it was and something I wanted to continue to do. I’ve now been present for five births, but I was able to be a part of the delivery for my first one last week,” Mrs McDonald said.

Mrs McDonald is currently undertaking on-the-job training for 12 months at both Gunnedah and Tamworth hospitals while studying online via distance education.

Gunnedah Health Service Manager Melissa O’Brien said the scholarship program is a great benefit to rural areas.

“There is definitely an acknowledgement that growing your own is the best way to encourage health professionals to stay in rural areas,” Mrs O’Brien said.

There is definitely an acknowledgement that growing your own is the best way to encourage health professionals to stay in rural areas.

Gunnedah Health Service Manager, Melissa O'Brien

“Part of the aim of this scholarship is to encourage a nurse who wants to become a midwife to develop those skills with the support of the Health service that he/she knows. It also gives our GP Obstetricians and our midwives the opportunity to impart their knowledge and teach a student midwife.”

As part of her training Mrs McDonald needs to oversee 30 births in a 12-month period.

“I also have to have 10 women who I see from the start of their pregnancy to the birth and who I will visit afterwards as a continuation of care program,” Mrs McDonald said.

NSW Health said scholarships of up to $8,000 are available to registered nurses and midwives who are working in full or part-time permanent positions in the NSW public health system.

The aim of the scholarships is to support the recruitment, retention and skill development of registered nurses and midwives currently working in public health.