Beth Duncan


What are the challenges you’re facing as a midwife practicing during the pandemic?

Keeping up with updates, relaying those updates in a meaningful and midwife-specific way to a large Dept of committed midwives, creating systems within our department to anticipate human resource changes (what if midwives start getting sick?), procuring and distributing PPE, reworking our clinical schedule and way of working, and lack of childcare while often working from home. 

How has your midwifery practice changed since the pandemic?

My clinical practice has changed in the way that our scheduled clinic appointments are now mostly phone appointments, with an quick in-person appointment the next day, on an abbreviated schedule (WHO). 


We are wearing masks during client interactions. As a midwife, I have worked to decrease the barriers, including the physical barriers, between me and the people I am caring for, so this way of working, always with a barrier and with minimal in person contact (none with my face showing) is a huge departure from my usual midwifery practice. 

Can you please describe a snapshot of a recent workday?

I am wearing 2 hats in this pandemic: a clinician hat as a community midwife, and a hospital leadership hat as the assistant department head of BCWH Dept of Midwifery. Some days, I am wearing both of those hats. 

I wake up, listen/watch Rounds for updates, do postpartum visits at 2 different hospitals (changing clothes 5 times), stop at my office to pick up donated and procured PPE for Department members, attend a home birth as 2nd attendant in full PPE, then head home to work on an emergency coverage plan for midwives and write a daily update email to go out to the Dept members. 

What, if anything, is helping you get through this crisis?

The 7pm shout-outs/cheering from the neighbourhood. 

The camaraderie between healthcare providers at the hospital. 

The incredible commitment of midwives to working with the most up to date and evidence-based information, even though that requires a lot more work and changes weekly. 

Baked goodies from strangers dropped at my door to thank me for working so hard. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I've been practicing for 14 years now and obviously never been through something like this. I am new to my administrative position at BCWH. 

I have been so struck by midwives' resilience. Despite often being overworked and underpaid, somehow everyone has found the energy to work more and harder than they were working previously. In the midst of a pandemic. In the midst of kids being home all day and having to line up at the grocery store (ie: when life is harder than usual). We have gone the extra mile, we have relied on each other, and we have sorted out a new way of working. It is hard and we don't like it. But it is safe and appropriate and keeps us and our clients healthy. 

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