Interview: Phoebe O’Neill – Caseload Midwife (CMS/RN/RM)

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by Chloe Thornton

28.11.18

Interview: Phoebe O’Neill – Caseload Midwife (CMS/RN/RM)

Phoebe O’Neill is a down-to-earth, committed and enthusiastic caseload midwife whose ethos is to endeavour to improve maternity health outcomes by delivering thorough and personalised care to the women, and families, whom she cares for. Continuity of care has been proven to facilitate better health outcomes for both mother and baby, resulting in increased demand and interest from women to be involved in a caseload model of care.

Job Title:

Caseload Midwife/Clinical Midwife Specialist/Registered Nurse/Registered Midwife – depends whos asking!

What does your current job entail?

I work on call – 10 out of 14 days of the fortnight. I have an individual caseload of 45 women per year and work in a team with two other midwives who have the same, so we care for around 12-15 women per month from about 22-24 weeks until roughly 10 days post delivery. We work across clinics, birth suite, post natal and visiting in the home.

What/who inspired you to become a midwife? Did you always know you wanted to work as a midwife?

It was in year 9 at school in health studies – I vividly remember hearing about the state of health care in 3rd world countries, the statistics of women becoming permanently injured during childbirth, babies not being delivered in time and the rates of maternal deaths and feeling completely horrified. I wanted to learn how to help, and how to make a small difference somewhere. I feel like we are so fortunate just to be born in Australia, let alone have such amazing access to education, I want to learn as much as I can, to give back in some way.

Where did you do your training and how long did it take?

I studied bachelor of nursing/bachelor of midwifery at Deakin University, in total it took me 5 years.

What has the path, from commencement of study to now, looked like for you? Has there been any change in direction?

I really struggled academically so I had a few moments where I considered my options thoroughly. I moved campuses after my first year, then failed a subject in my final year so I had to repeat. That really threw me. However, I did a stint as an admin temp and HATED it, it was then i realised I had to stick it out and its well and truly paid off. I have my dream job, at a really great hospital, working with amazing, like-minded people that inspire me everyday. Plus I get to deliver really thorough and personalised care to women and their families.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to be where you are today?

If I’m honest, getting through uni. I’ve found since then I have been able to thrive in a practical, hands-on environment rather than the academic one.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

The grounding nature of the work we do. It really is the most primal act we experience as humans, its very hard to get carried away with the small stuff when you’re a midwife. To go along with that, I have to mention the working relationship with my team-mates, they become like family because we’re in the trenches together aiming to provide the best care for the women and their families. The things we see….wowee.

What is your least favourite thing about your job?

Working on call, its hard to plan things – which for a type A personality has been a learning process, I’ve had to learn to go with the flow + try my best to create a balance, get things done when I can and to be prepared as much as possible.

What sticks out to you as the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career so far?

That fundamentally we’re all actually very similar – we may have different experiences, different backgrounds and speak different languages, but in labour – there is only really one language and that is really breathtaking.

Do you think caseload midwifery is the gold standard of care and the way forward in the midwifery world?

Absolutely. It’s individualised care – we can be woman centred, we have the time to educate and prepare women while building a bond that promotes trust + therefore empowers women to take ownership of their space and their experience with a qualified, fully supported health professional by their side, backed by the hospital system. They can make informed decisions and feel in control. The research shows us that there’s decreased interventions and better outcomes for mums + their babes. It’s a no-brainer in my eyes! And as a midwife, the job satisfaction is huge!!!

Any special areas of interest that you may explore in the future?

I’d really love to become a lactation consultant – I’m looking in to studying that in the future. 

What tips or words of wisdom would you share with someone thinking of becoming a midwife or a midwife considering work as a caseload midwife?

Do it! It’s the most rewarding, grounding and humbling career – a lot of the time I still can’t believe I’m getting paid to do it! It honestly doesn’t feel like work!

One Response

  1. Kim
    | Reply

    This lady is an angel. Not only is she my friend but she was my saviour when I first got home with my baby and had no idea what I was doing. Book learnin’ isn’t always a sign of whether someone will be good or bad at their job. So glad she persisted.

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