Florence Nightingale Foundation Midwife scholar explores the well-being of postnatal mothers


Carly has been a research midwife for the past four years at Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust, working predominantly on the National Institute of Health Research Portfolio studies. Prior to her current role she spent three years working as a clinical midwife. Carly is currently studying part time as part of a Masters course at Newcastle University. The title of Carly’s research project is: ‘Perinatal Maternal Well-being: An Exploratory Study’.

How did you hear about the Florence Nightingale Foundation?

A colleague of mine had successfully applied for a scholarship through the Foundation; this swayed me to apply as I saw the benefits it brought to her career. I had read a variety of material online and I was very aware of how prestigious an award it was. After I filled in the application I was invited for a Skype interview which lasted roughly 40 minutes. In this interview I was asked many questions about myself and my motivations for undertaking the research. They obviously want people to show a real understanding of their chosen subject and they were interested to know what I thought the implications and consequences of my research were, including whether or not I planned to develop my research further in the future.

Why did you choose to conduct your research on this topic?

Being a midwife, perinatal care has always been something very relevant to me and my work. When I did my undergraduate degree dissertation I researched mental health and depression and anxiety, and now in my workplace I see lots of patients suffering from these problems after the birth of their child. There are already some tools to assess these individual problems but there is no tool to assess well-being itself. This is partly because well-being has been such a difficult term to define and there has not been any extensive research or literature on the subject.

What are the aims of your research?

The real aim of my current research is to explore and define the concept of well-being. I am interviewing postnatal mothers to gain an understanding of what well-being means to them. I will then analyse the responses and make an attempt at defining the term. Because this hasn’t really been done before, this is a very important first step in tackling the issue and this information can be used as a base to begin improving well-being.

What do you hope to achieve?

After my Masters, I hope to conduct a PHD that will give me an opportunity to develop my current research and understanding of well-being to create a tool which will allow health professionals to effectively assess well-being in postnatal mothers. From the people that I have spoken to already, many of them agree that there needs to be some way of evaluating a mothers’ well-being and I would love to be able to create something that could be widely used in clinical practice.

How has the Florence Nightingale Foundation supported you?

Being a Florence Nightingale Foundation scholar has been brilliant. Without their funding, I wouldn’t be able to undertake this really worthwhile research. Aside from this, the support I have been offered and the prestige that comes with being a Florence Nightingale scholar is invaluable. My CV really stands out and it is a great platform for me to continue my research in the future. Throughout my Master’s degree I have met many other people and this has offered me plenty of opportunities to network and share research. I am able to tap into the knowledge of others who have done similar studies and it also exposes me to a huge number of academics, many of whom could be potential PHD supervisors. My course also has leadership modules and these have given me many transferable skills that I use daily in my current role.

About the author

NHS Professionals administrator

NHS Professionals manages the temporary staffing needs of around 66 NHS Trusts across England. An integral part of the NHS, it aims to reduce Trusts’ spending on flexible workers without compromising quality, by providing greater transparency of demand and supplying bank staff at the best possible rate. Its bank of more than 40,000 flexible workers comprises general and specialist nurses, doctors, midwives, admin/clerical , allied health professionals, healthcare scientists, support services among other healthcare professionals.

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