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Midwifery student Jenny Keys' spent time in both Hyderabad and Tanzania.

Jenny's story

I feel extremely lucky, and I really can't thank the Trust enough for choosing me for this award.

Midwifery Student, Jenny Keys, who is in the final year of her course at City University in London, has recently returned from separate placements in India and Tanzania after being awarded Outstanding Student Midwife at the Cavell Nurses' Trust Scholarship Awards 2013.

Jenny, 32, from Herne Hill in London was awarded a £1,500 scholarship and spent two weeks in a hospital in Hyderabad, India, contributing towards a new midwifery training programme.

She then followed that up with a further two week placement, this time in Tanzania, working with a non-profit organisation called Women and Children Tanzania, which organises nursing and midwifery placements. Jennifer, who previously worked for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) before deciding on a change of career, said: "I still can't believe the opportunities that I have been given over the last few months, first with my trip to India and then this placement in Tanzania, neither of which I would have done without the Cavell scholarship.

"Both have been incredibly rich experiences. I feel I have learned so much, and gained such an interesting context for my future work in the UK, as well as some much-needed confidence for my transition to being a newly qualified midwife."

Jennifer's initial placement in India was with 16 existing student midwives, eight junior and eight senior.

"It is difficult to put the experience into words. Midwifery has not previously existed as a recognised profession in India, and there are massive inequalities in maternity across the country.

"Where formal maternity care does exist, it is based on a very medicalised model of care; epidural, intervention and caesarean rates are all high.

"Fernandez Hospital in Hyderabad is currently piloting a midwifery training programme with the aim of reducing these high rates, and creating a model of care transferable to low risk women in community settings, and ultimately to reduce national maternal morbidity and mortality."

She added: "My days generally followed the routine of spending the morning in the hospital's busy labour ward or in a clinic, followed by spending the afternoon and early evening teaching midwifery to each group of students.

"I hadn't realised before I was there that I would be expected to take such a hands-on role in teaching and, although daunting, it was a fantastic experience. It was extremely exciting to be involved in the early stages of such an important programme, and my experiences working with the students and the women in the hospital were overwhelmingly positive.

"I cannot imagine that this is the end of my relationship with the hospital or students, and I hope I can continue to contribute to the programme in the future, particularly with more midwifery experience behind me.

"I feel extremely lucky to have had this opportunity, and can honestly say it has had a profoundly positive impact on the way I see my early midwifery care developing."

Jennifer had very little time to dwell on her experience in India, before she was packing to go to Africa where she worked with the non-profit Women and Children Tanzania.

The organisation arranges nursing and midwifery placements in Tanzania with a view to skill sharing and improving maternity outcomes.

While she was there, she met other health professionals on placement, including her mum Marjorie, a nurse for 30 years, who was also working with Women and Children Tanzania.

Jennifer, who stayed with a local Tanzanian family, spent the majority of her time in the busy maternity department of a government hospital.

She said: "I found my hospital colleagues to be very hard working and committed, but they face many barriers to safe care provision, particularly due to lack of resources, clean facilities, or staff.

"I particularly focused on post-natal care, and realised how much I take for granted in the UK - especially being able to act quickly when I have early concerns about the health of a mum or baby. I found this a very challenging area, but one I learned a lot from.

"A highlight of my trip was spending three days in a Maasai village where I gained experience working in the dispensary and providing care at the ante-natal clinic. This was a small centre run by one nurse and one doctor, and although a lack of resources was still an issue, I felt that the standard of care for women was very high.

"It was also very refreshing to work without any reliance on technology or unnecessary medical interventions, and the experience helped me to appreciate how the most important midwifery skills can be utilised without these.

"I feel extremely lucky, and I really can't thank the Trust enough for choosing me for this award."

October 2013