Maria, Associate Director and Lead Midwife, NHS Education for Scotland

Maria Pollard is the lead midwife at NHS Education for Scotland (NES). She tells us all about her career journey from nursing and midwifery into education.

Where did your midwifery journey start?

I started my career in nursing in 1983 and then moved into midwifery, registering as a midwife in 1990. I have had a varied and interesting career in midwifery, first in clinical practice and latterly in education.

When I worked in clinical practice, I mainly worked in labour suites before becoming a development midwife. At this time, I also completed a Masters in Midwifery, to continue my own professional development. I then moved into higher education as a midwife lecturer, whilst also completing a doctorate in education and writing a textbook about breastfeeding.

Why did you decide to become a midwife?

I decided to go into midwifery because I enjoyed the idea of supporting women and families through such an incredible journey in their life

Can you describe what a typical day is like for you?

Currently I am working from home most of the time, but my job is very varied. I work with nurses, midwives and other professionals from all over Scotland and the rest of the UK. I also work with higher education institutions, Health Boards, social care organisations and the Scottish Government.

A typical day involves me translating policy into what education and training resources we need to develop for people working in health and social care in Scotland. We need to make sure they have the right skills and evidence to provide the best care they can.

We have learned a lot from the COVID-19 pandemic and are working hard to ensure everyone can access our resources by using up-to-date technology, which is particularly important for our more remote and rural areas in Scotland.

What are the most important skills for a midwife?

Midwives need to have good communication skills and empathy. You need to be able to build a relationship with the people in your care. This is one of the most important experiences a person can have, so they need to trust the midwife who is going on that journey with them.

What’s your biggest career achievement?

I think successfully completing my doctorate in education whilst working as a midwife lecturer. I was interested in how students learned in practice and became a senior lecturer in practice learning, supporting student nurses and midwives within 6 local Health Boards.

What advice would you give to others thinking about becoming a midwife?

Do it! It is a great job and a privilege to be there at such an important part of a family’s life.

What makes you passionate about working as a midwife?

In my current role, it is about supporting other midwives to develop. We need to get the right people in the right roles. And we need to provide them with the right education and training opportunities to enable them to provide great care and develop themselves throughout their career.

What are the changes you have seen during your career?

The move to more evidence-based care. Greater continuity of care that is person-centred and provided at home or nearer to home. Listening to what women want, so we are partners in their care.

Midwifes are here for life because…

They can support women and families at such an important time in their lives and get the new-born baby off to the best start possible on life’s journey.

Midwifery Here for Life

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