Claire MacDonald, DPH Student.
Claire has been working as a Lead Maternity Carer midwife for eight years, as well as studying towards the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health (DPH) part-time for the last two years. Claire found the balance between study, providing antenatal and postnatal care and being on-call for births a juggle at times, but thoroughly worthwhile.
As a midwife working in the community, Claire believes she is in a very privileged position of being invited into women's homes and families during their pregnancy and childbirth journey, which gives particular insight into how social, economic and health policies influence health in direct and indirect ways. The study of Public Health sheds light on these processes from an individual to a population perspective and thoroughly satisfies Claire's desire to understand some of the details, as well as the big picture.
Qualitative research naturally lends itself to the social model of health within which midwifery is situated. Yet it is epidemiology that underpins maternity clinical guidelines and the culture of risk that strongly influences our everyday lives and healthcare practice. Claire's primary motivation for beginning this programme, therefore, was to be able to contribute to her profession by gaining skills in quantitative research methods.
"I was very pleased to discover just how relevant and enjoyable the core papers were in providing an excellent foundation for the subsequent research papers. I particularly enjoyed the multidisciplinary scope of public health and the rich discussions with classmates from other professions including health promotion, social work, nursing and medicine during the on-campus delivered papers. I also appreciated the diverse backgrounds and research expertise of the academic staff. I have become an enthusiastic advocate for this programme to anyone who works in health and health policy, who is concerned with social justice and understanding the ‘causes of the causes’ of health inequalities and inequities."
The skills and qualification Claire gained through the DPH have led to opportunities for her to present at the New Zealand College of Midwives Biennial Conference and a multidisciplinary Canterbury District Health Board study day. She also co-authored a chapter on the Social Determinants of Health for the New Zealand and Australian undergraduate midwifery textbook, for publication in 2018.
Claire is now considering using mixed methods for a future master's thesis, as this enables the analysis of statistical patterns as well as exploring the nuance and meaning behind the numbers, both of which are important to build understanding of midwifery and maternity.