All 2 entries tagged Midwifery Research

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September 10, 2012

The Day my Words grew Wings

I have very mixed feelings about conferences. I've never arrived at a conference in the company of anyone I know, so I've generally gone into the customary pre-conference coffee session having to make rapid connections, which is something I tend to be a bit uncomfortable with. However, on the other side of the coin is the joy of meeting new people and making interesting friendships, which I suppose is one of my favourite things about conferences!

I've just been at a conference in Nottingham, on the very campus where I was a student at the beginning of my PhD. I knew quite a lot of the people organising the conference - I worked with several of them during my midwife years, and obviously during the course of the PhD have met various members of the midwifery academic department at Nottingham. So this was quite a departure - although I walked into the conference on my own, I knew there would be familiar faces.

Even more significantly, some of the midwives who undertook the leadership course I've included in my research were sitting in the conference hall when I presented my paper. This was simultaneously nerve-wracking and satisfying - after all, if the findings ring true to the participants, then I must be doing something right! words grow wings

As it turned out, the paper seemed to resonate with a lot of the audience, and I received a lot of positive feedback and comments around, 'Oh, you could totally apply that to my experiences...' I drove home in a state of utter happiness, although a little worried that I might have to re-structure my data chapters more around liminal space, as it seemed such an interesting concept to the audience - but that's a worry for another day!

The main thing was how I felt in the act of sending words out into the world - the title of this post, being about growing wings, was exactly how it seemed to me. I've spent three years building up to this - a time when I can encapsulate the research into a 20-minute presentation that makes sense to the audience it's aimed at. It really did feel like the words just flowed out into the room and landed in the place they were meant to be. A fanciful description maybe, but one that sums up how I felt as I was speaking.

So, re-structuring aside, I've found this a hugely enjoyable and powerful conference experience. Next stop, the Royal College of Midwives conference in November, where similar words will go out to a slightly different audience. I'm hoping the bird will fly again...

July 02, 2012

Climbing out of the Box

One of the things I love most about my PhD is the fact that it spans so many places. There's the obvious midwifery element, but of course there's also management and leadership in the NHS, identity of individuals and groups, leadership more generally, and my beloved talent management. Having so many areas to explore has been both exhilerating and frustrating - exhilerating because I've never been somebody who likes to just look at one tiny thing for three years at a time, and frustrating because it's been something of a struggle to include all the various parts into the study (my favourite tent-in-a-bag analogy). And of course, there's been the ongoing question of my own identity, and where I might sit most comfortably.

So along the way, I've been to conferences and seminars dealing with various elements linked to the research, and I've felt like my confidence in being properly multi-lingual has grown enormously. It's been challenging at times, notably when I went to a private sector symposium on talent management and found myself conversing in business speak - I felt like such a fraud that day! Equally, I've had to learn that many of the midwives I speak to are not that interested in the theoretical framework, preferring to hear about my findings in terms of future policy and direction for midwifery.

Later today I'm off to Oxford, for a conference about midwifery and childbirth in its historical context. That might seem something of a departure from my thesis, and indeed I thought long and hard about going, particularly as I'm currently writing up my data chapters. One of my supervisors has warned me in the past about getting distracted, so I was a little nervous that I might find myself skipping headlong down a blind alley. But then when I thought about it, I realised that none of the apparently random and unconnected thinking and reading I've done over the past two years has been wasted, because it always generates new ideas or just interesting conversations. And this conference might actually be quite useful, because I have a tiny thought about contemporary midwives and their difficult history that might germinate into something a bit relevant.


And apart from anything else, it will give me a chance to spend a couple of days with people who are looking at midwifery from a different angle. Bearing in mind that I plan to head back towards midwifery in some way, perhaps this conference is just what I need.

Well, we'll see. But if I come back trying to completely redesign my thesis, someone kind should just hit me soundly on the head and remind me that a Business School PhD does not involve relating 17th Century man-midwives to talent management in the 21st Century NHS.

And this picture? Man-midwifery, of course. Just be thankful I didn't put something more graphic up there, to represent 17th Century midwifery...

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