In 2017, I embarked on my first year as a Graduate Midwife, meaning that my formal training was complete, my placement hours submitted, and my academic requirements ticked off.
The University Diploma was given pride of place on my wall, and I’d taken (and uploaded) the required amount of happy snaps wearing my graduation gown and cap, to satisfy the many relatives who had been sharing the studying journey with me, and who were equally pleased to see the end of it all.
I was looking forward to getting paid for my work, and to putting into practice what I had learned during the preceding three years of study.
For a moment there, I was pretty confident. The study was over.
But, the learning had just begun. And I’m actually surprised by the fact that I was surprised by it.
After all, I’m not new to nursing. I’d already undertaken a graduate program as a junior nurse, and worked for a few years (in a number of clinical areas) outside of it, so I suppose I felt as though I was well-prepared for the challenges that another graduate year would entail.
However, as I rapidly discovered, entering midwifery in a junior capacity (after being a competent, and confident nurse) was akin to entering a whole new world, all over again. And there was no choice other than to put my ego aside, open my mind, and be completely accepting to new experiences, no matter how foreign, or challenging they may be.
Thus, 2017 rapidly became my most intense year of learning yet, accompanied by a lovely pocketful of humility, and a sprinkling of grace.
According to a quick search on Wiki today, learning is described as:
“the process of acquiring new, or modifying existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences”.
Word for word, this quote describes my year.
I learned more new skills in 2017 than I can even declare, and the foundations that I brought into the year with me have been modified and recreated, ten times over. I have grown as a nurse, a midwife, and as a person, and I’m pretty certain that 2018 has got more to bring to this party of personal development than I can even imagine right now.
But at the start, I was just a mess.
During my first month of working in birth suite, I found myself apologising to a colleague for asking her (yet another) question. I’d been floundering around all morning, and felt really overwhelmed and out of my depth. She answered my question, with a genuinely kind smile, and said “hey, you don’t know what you don’t know. Ask questions until you do”.
She’ll probably never even remember that conversation. But I do. And it changed everything for me.
Thank you, Margie.
Despite a whole lot of self doubt, numerous debriefs, and quite a bit of arm flailing (“I don’t know if I’m cut out for this gig!!), I’ve actually made it to the end of that first year (or very close to it!), and I can see myself starting to show glimpses of the midwife that I want to be.
Maybe in five years.
Maybe in ten years.
Who knows? I’m sure she’s in there somewhere, at any rate.
What I DO know is that every single day that I go to work is an opportunity to learn something more. Something clinical, or something emotional; something spiritual, or something personal; something about efficiency, or something about humanity.
So, while I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I don’t know what I don’t know, I DO know what I DO know, and that’s that there’s a lot more for me to learn.
I know more than I knew, but less than I’ll know, and if that doesn’t represent the perfect opportunity to just keep learning more, then I don’t know what does.
Today, and every day, I will learn.