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Meet the Lecturer: Jo Killingley, Midwifery

Senior Lecturer in Midwifery, Jo Killingley, is as passionate about the practice of midwifery as she is about mentoring and guiding students to excel in their future careers. 

Here she shares the story of how she became a midwife, her insights on the challenges of the profession – and what makes it all worthwhile.

Jo Killingley midwifery Middlesex UniversityWhat inspired you to pursue a career in midwifery and education?

I wanted to be a nurse when I had a hip operation at the age of five. I left school and went straight to The Royal Free School of Nursing at 17 years old and loved every minute of my training. I qualified and worked as a surgical high dependency nurse for two years and, as my course was only at diploma level, I wanted a degree. So I left nursing – temporarily, or so I thought – to gain a degree in midwifery. The rest is history, as I loved the autonomy and ability to empower women to birth. I remained a midwife ever since and have never looked back.

I have worked in many areas, organisations and hospitals all over London and the Home Counties, with a significant passion for normality and empowering women to birth. I then had my own family and worked less while the girls were little. As I was working part-time, I decided to start an MSc in Midwifery Studies.

As I was completing my MSc, I began to feel that some midwives around me 'on the shop floor’ were frustrated and were no longer strong, empowered women. I thought I might be able to make a difference if I went into education and supported student midwives to be fully empowered, so that they could empower women in turn.

What do you think sets the midwifery courses at Middlesex University apart from other institutions?

I think Middlesex has a strong philosophy of support and pastoral care. Our students are important to us, and as health care professionals we practice what we teach.

The area served by Middlesex has a diverse population, which enhances and supports the demographics of London. Health inequalities among diverse groups are significant and are also notoriously difficult to identify. If you have a workforce which is multicultural, you are more likely to be able to apply the relevant mechanisms to support a healthy nation.

What do you think are some of the specific challenges faced by midwives and future midwives today?

I think for all professionals in midwifery, students and qualified midwives are challenged daily with the demand of work. Babies come when they are ready; the birth rate is rising; women are individuals and have differing needs, and the work force is depleted. These factors all play a significant role in placing pressure on individuals.

Midwives are excellent care-givers, but not always to themselves. As a result, they compromise themselves daily to look after others; this obviously impacts on their own health.

What do you enjoy most about teaching future midwives?

I love the fact that they are as fresh and as enthusiastic as I am about midwifery – full of creativity and inspiration. I can’t wait to see them develop year on year to achieve their goals and become qualified. It is wonderful to then see them fulfil their roles as independent practitioners.

What’s the most important piece of advice you want your students to leave their course with?

Be empowered so you can empower others, work hard and care for yourself. Enjoy life and make a difference!

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