Midwives make history

03:28, Apr 30 2014
rhiannon fitzgerald, kelly allan
NEW ERA: Rhiannon Fitzgerald, left, and Kelly Allan are the first people in South Canterbury to graduate with a Bachelor of Midwifery after completing a satellite course, jointly offered between Christchurch and Otago polytechs.

International Midwives Day is on May 5, followed by International Nurses' Day on May 12. Alexia Johnston spoke with two women who were the first graduates of a new South Canterbury midwifery course and now have jobs at Jean Todd Maternity.

South Canterbury midwives Rhiannon Fitzgerald and Kelly Allan are marking a first for their industry at Jean Todd Maternity.

The women are the first in South Canterbury to graduate from a Bachelor of Midwifery satellite course, jointly offered between Christchurch and Otago polytechs.

It took Fitzgerald and Allan three years to complete their studies, mainly from the comfort of their own homes.

A large component of the course is self directed learning, but is well balanced with assessments and practical experience working alongside women and midwives throughout the degree, Fitzgerald said.

That process involved Moodle, an online interactive learning programme, which allowed students to take part in virtual classes so they can hear other students talking and watch notes being made on a white board.


To complete their studies they were required to deliver 40 normal births, work alongside 50 women with complications, conduct 100 ante-natal visits, 100 post-natal visits and 100 new born examinations, Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald and Allan, who each have two children, agreed that taking part in the satellite course was their best option. Due to having young families they did not want to relocate.

"It was the only option that we had, but it was still a challenge," Allan said.

Fitzgerald said working from home had its privileges.

"If I had a lot [of study] to do I could wait till the children were in bed at night. I didn't have to attend classrooms at a set time."

Lectures were recorded for students on the satellite course, which meant they could watch them whenever they wanted.

Allan said financially the course was a challenge, but she is now enjoying her new industry. Being with people is one of the aspects she enjoys the most.

"You meet people at the start and when you see them at the end they are confident mums. I like that experience from start to finish," Fitzgerald added.

Allan and Fitzgerald are also part of a mentor programme and have compulsory educational days to build on their midwifery knowledge.

The support given to the graduates was valuable, Fitzgerald said. "You are never alone, which is great."

Allan agreed. "I think that's a fear when you first finish, that you are going to be on your own, but you're not".

South Canterbury