International Women's Day 2022
Date: 08 March 2022
In support of International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8 March 2022), we’re sharing the career journeys of some of our inspirational colleagues throughout the day to help inspire others.
Read the story of Dot Smith, Head of Midwifery, below.
I am Anglo Indian and was born in Kanpur, India, but when people meet me they don’t necessarily see my ethnicity.
Although I had to work hard for moderate results, I loved school and I was the annoying child who always asked why and what if…?
At the age of 15, after attending a careers day at secondary school, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse. My role models were members of my family - in particular my mum. She was a nurse in India but gave up her career to look after my sisters and I as that was the expectation back in the 60s.
As a child I experienced racism and observed my parents being subjected to this as well. As a student nurse I was often referred to in racist terms; I decided that this would not define me or my ability to be the best I could be.
My nurse training introduced me to the world of midwifery and for that I will be forever grateful. I am proud of my profession and I will always be the voice of midwifery, and the advocate for midwives, women and birthing people.
Having qualified as a Registered General Nurse (RGN), I consolidated my training, ironically on a male surgical ward; this was followed by an 18 month conversion to qualify as a Registered General Midwife (RGM) in 1989!
Since starting my midwifery career as a rotational midwife I have held many roles including, antenatal/postnatal ward manager, consultant midwife, deputy head of midwifery and head of midwifery - the role I hold today here at Medway NHS Foundation Trust.
I’m sure if you have been around as long as I have you will look back and see how different the NHS is today. When I started senior roles were held by white males, you couldn’t automatically have a part-time contract to support child care and the relationship between doctors and midwives was extremely hierarchical.
My career has been underpinned by an ambition to positively influence the maternity experience for as many women and birthing people as I can. I have never let other people’s bias hold me back and I am happy to intervene to ensure inclusion and equity.
I am proud to be the Head of Midwifery for the Trust. The organisation has invested in me, supporting me with many development opportunities in various roles, and secondments, and I have achieved two Masters. In return I have developed a service which is recognised externally as award winning. My proudest moment ever was being awarded ‘Maternity Service of The Year’ in 2019 by the Royal College of Midwifery (RCM).
The maternity team are committed to safe high quality care and although the last two years has been challenging due to the pandemic we continue to commit to putting women and birthing people at the centre of all that we do.
I hope I have inspired and influenced my team as a professional role model to think and act with compassion, challenging bias and to continue to provide a service which is equitable and inclusive.
In support of International Women’s Day we’re sharing the career journeys of some of our inspirational colleagues throughout the day to help inspire others.
To round off the days celebrations, Dot Smith, Head of Midwifery, reveals why she chose to become a nurse.