Earlier this year, it was announced that for the second year running, the University of Worcester’s Midwifery course had registered a score of 100% on the prestigious National Student Satisfaction survey.
This outstanding achievement was further recognition of the course’s excellent reputation, and 34 of its students will graduate today.
Among them is 31 year-old Jacci Richardson, winner of the inaugural University of Worcester Midwifery Fellowship prize and mother of three.
Jacci previously studied Sociology at the University of Worcester before going on to work with adults with disabilities and in children’s homes. After having her first two children – born in 2007 and 2008 – Jacci’s interest in midwifery grew.
She explains: “Working in children’s homes, I developed an understanding of attachment disorders – which is when women are unable to bond with their children, or don’t have the necessary support to be parents.
“I really enjoyed my pregnancies and my labours, but I think quite a lot of women are made to believe they can’t do it – if someone they know has had a bad experience with pregnancy or childbirth, everybody wants to tell you about it.
“It’s just about trying to re-educate – telling women ‘you can do this’.”
Jacci became pregnant with her third child in 2011, so deferred for a year before returning to complete the course. She says that the support that she has had from the staff at the University of Worcester throughout her studies has been invaluable.
“A lot of the lecturers here, from what I can gather, have come into educating for the same reasons as me – they like to share their knowledge and to impart the belief that childbirth is a normal, natural process,” she explains.
“This is what we’re trying to get across and filter down. The staff here have definitely fostered my interests –they’re very supportive and very encouraging.
“I really loved studying at Worcester and I’m very glad I chose to come back. The University has expanded, which is great, but it’s still a very nurturing, friendly environment.”
Having secured a job at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, Jacci is eager for today’s graduation ceremony not to spell the end of her time in education.
“I’ve got to get through my qualifying year first, but I’ve got lots of research ideas,” she explains. “I’m very interested in how diabetes affects pregnancy, as well as developing support for birth partners.
“I never thought in a million years that I’d want to become a lecturer, but now I’m at the end of my studies, I’m coming around to the idea!”
Sarah Snow, Lead Midwife for Education and Programme Leader, is delighted that Jacci and so many of her fellow students will graduate today.
“It’s all down to the students in the group,” she says. “They have worked extremely hard and they’ve overcome lots of different challenges. There has always been a nice feel about this group, and they have a good bond.
“Midwifery is a serious profession. It’s certainly a very rewarding occupation, however it’s a serious one too as we are providing a professional service to women and their families. The value of that service must never be underestimated.
“We set the bar very high in regards to the calibre of students we take on, and it’s fantastic to see so many of them graduating today.”