Gathering in the Knowledge – a midwife’s review!

I was delighted to see a review of Gathering in the Knowledge in a recent edition of Midwifery Matters. If you’ve ever wondered what others think of our ‘annual update’ online course, now you can find out! Here’s Lynn’s review, in full, and with thanks to the Association of Radical Midwives for allowing me to re-post.

“I signed up for this course with great trepidation. Whilst I was a practising midwife for many years, I retired some time ago and am certainly not up to date clinically. Together with the fact that the worlds of technology, computers and the internet seem to move at speed, my deliberate adoption of living more akin to the slow movement (back to basics, such as cooking from scratch etc) means that I feel like I am playing catch up every time I log on. But I’d committed to reviewing the course and secured a place on the July intake. I needn’t have worried, ‘Gathering in the Knowledge’ is so well designed and run that even a luddite could manage navigating the online platform (Ruzuku) and there is further tech support in the form of Sara’s very capable husband, Chris.

The personal touch continues as the course materials become available on a Friday, and Sara is available checking in over the weekend spending a lot of time that first week, the facilitated part, interacting with everyone. A major advantage is being able to access the materials totally at your own pace as the course stays ‘live’ for a further 3 weeks. Laid out as lessons that include an excellent video of Sara discussing the subject, worksheets, references and links to research or analysis for download, and a discussion thread for each subject, it is simple to negotiate.

Key areas are explored in depth; influential research is evaluated, current practice is scrutinised, and all in the somewhat rare and very welcome approach Sara has, as a truly holistic but also academic midwife.

Key areas are explored in depth; influential research is evaluated, current practice is scrutinised, and all in the somewhat rare and very welcome approach Sara has, as a truly holistic but also academic midwife. For this session Sara made mincemeat of the ARRIVE trial, explored the results of the AFFIRM trial, reviewed other studies covering pregnancy, birth and labour including some wonderful research concerning music and reducing stress. Another area that I particularly enjoyed was Sara’s ‘round-up of research into mindfulness.’ The crux of Sara’s skill, crafting a course (and others, incidentally) that you can be certain contain the latest views and news on any subject. Everyone is catered for, whether your practice is community or hospital based or you are an allied profession in birth. (Lynn’s review was of the 2019 course; find out about the latest content here.)

‘Gathering in the Knowledge’ is surely a great example of the future of continuing professional development (CPD). In the swift moving world of information sharing and clinical evidence, an on-line course can be adapted to ensure that it is up-to-date in real time.

Being online, it is an international gathering and has all the advantages of cross-cultural exchange. The heart of this programme is its community nature. You not only have access to Sara’s vast knowledge and web-based data, you have the collective input of practitioners throughout the world, their experiences and thinking.

I was put in mind of the early days of the internet in the 1990’s, when ARM had an extremely active Yahoo group. With I believe over 2,000 members, it enabled any woman interested in birth to post questions, views, articles, research, a plethora of intelligence, guidance and advice. Our Honorary Steering Group member, Ishbel Kargar, celebrated in the last issue of MM, has oft commented that this was the activity that she is most proud of instituting. This was before social media became established and was a safe space for women to gain another perspective or seek counsel on very personal issues, as well as professional midwives searching for clinical knowledge or simply support. In fact Sara rather follows this tradition in that she shares freely an enormous amount of information on her website, not a common trait in these days of commodification and business.

In fact Sara rather follows this tradition in that she shares freely an enormous amount of information on her website, not a common trait in these days of commodification and business.

You could argue that opinion rather than fact could become a problem, but no more so than any other platform of learning I would contend. There is always conjecture even within the perceived conclusions of research. Sara is well versed in questioning controversy and moot points and at other times I witnessed a kind of self-regulating of debatable areas.

Before the course closes, participants are given the chance to download their discussion threads for their portfolios, a nice touch. This course, in terms of value for money is head and shoulders above what you can gain from an average midwifery study day or conference, particularly if travel and accommodation are involved.

I have no hesitation in recommending this course to any midwife as a valid and effective CPD tool.”

– Lynn Genevieve, midwife.

 

The next run of Gathering in the Knowledge is from May 15-22, 2020. And we’ll be running it again from July 3-10.

You can find details of all of Dr Sara Wickham’s online courses here. Or, if now isn’t the right time for you, sign up for our newsletter to receive our free monthly Birth Information update and be among the first to hear when we launch new books and courses.

 

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