An Inside Look at Midwifery at Ryerson

Ryerson has lots of unique programs that have great reputations. One of these programs is midwifery, which is in the Faculty of Community Services. A midwife is someone who helps a mother and her newborn around childbirth. It’s one of the smallest programs at Ryerson and I always wanted to learn more about it. Luckily, one of my friends and floormates is in the program and agreed to do an interview with me about the program and what it entails!

Raquel standing in front of a midwifery displayQ: Tell me about yourself! Who you are, where you’re from, what your program is?

A: Sure! I’m Raquel Deperasinski from Cobourg, Ontario and my program is midwifery. This is my second degree that I’m working on. I went to McMaster University before this for biology.

What is the midwifery program?

The Midwife Education Program (MEP) is one of only three in Ontario. You come out with a Bachelor of Health Sciences in midwifery, and once you write the Canadian Midwifery Registration exam you can practice as a registered midwife. There are different streams of the program but you start in the classroom for the first year and a half or two and a half years, and the rest of it is all clinical, like in placement.

What was the admission process like for this program?

Oh, it’s tough, it can be tough. You hear about how it’s competitive because there are only three schools [Ryerson, McMaster and Laurentian]. When I applied there was an application, but I think they took out the written personal application.  Now there’s a demographic survey and your grades. If they like that, then you get an interview. They do an MMI, which is the multiple mini interview. It sounds intense but it’s actually pretty chill. The interviews are in April and then you find out after the interview if you got in and which stream you got into out of the four or five-year stream.

What does the program entail? What kinds of classes are you taking? You also mentioned the placements. 

The first year so far has been a lot of theoretical stuff and we’re still in the classroom. We have a year-long class called social justice. We learn about midwifery. We have to take electives in women’s studies and social sciences as well as anatomy, physiology, and life sciences in first year unless you can get transfer credits. Your second year starts off a bit heavier in the sciences. You start off in pharmacology, reproductive physiology and you also do your clinical skills. If you’re in the four-year stream, halfway through the second year is when your placement would start. For your third-year placements, sometimes you do your placements with people who aren’t midwives, so you might do a placement in a hospital, with a nurse or obstetrician. Fourth-year is your clerkship, so you do a full year-long midwifery placement and you’re done! You write the exam.

Why did you choose Ryerson for your midwifery program?

Part of the reason was that I was already at McMaster so I was ready for a bit of a change. Laurentian was too far away. Ryerson was appealing because I wanted to be in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and it’s right in the downtown core which is really nice, exciting and fun. As well, Ryerson’s MEP has a great reputation in the midwifery community. I think the commitment to the social justice aspect of it, sharpening clinical and practical skills for your placement and a really thorough and robust placement is intriguing. The curriculum really looked like I would be coming out of it the most prepared to join the workforce.

Raquel looking into a midwifery display consisting of medical toolsWhat do you think are some misconceptions about the midwifery program?

Oooh. Hm. One of them would be is that you have to have a science background. That is not true. We have lots of people who have backgrounds in art, right out of high school, switched out of nutrition or social work at Ryerson. People have come in and people should definitely consider midwifery if they haven’t been in school for a while as well – it’s a very culminating program. I think the misconception is people think it’s too challenging and they shouldn’t apply if they want to – they should! A misconception about midwifery is that it’s not very scientific. So far I feel like I’ve done a lot of science.

I’ve heard that some people don’t really understand the difference between midwifery and nursing?

They are very different things. There are a couple of people in midwifery who were nurses before but they’re two very different degrees. Even if you got your midwifery degree, you’d still have to get your nursing degree to be a nurse. The interview process would weed out those who aren’t committed to midwifery. Different professions and different skills. Nurses know about a lot more parts of the body than we have to be worried about.

You already have a bachelor’s degree as you said earlier. Do most people in your program have one too? 

A lot of people do. I know people whose bachelors are in health sciences and I know some who have degrees in fashion. I know people who have only done one or two years of university and people who have done none. People who have degrees but got them a long time ago. There are lots of people who have previous education in the MEP. A big part of the reason is people realize they want to be midwives later on in life. Other degrees are not a requirement for the program in any means.

How do you think having a previous degree has helped you? 

It was helpful in knowing what to expect because I know the transition from high school to university is so challenging and I’m glad I wasn’t doing that all over again. I did get some transfer credits so it was helpful in that sense. At McMaster, a lot of the volunteering and stuff that I did, I was involved with a lot of student government so I think being exposed to different jobs, you know you aren’t exposed to jobs like midwifery as a kid. Being out in the world and seeing different ways that you can get into healthcare, I think a lot of people want to get into it but don’t know how. University opens up all those options for you. I learned I definitely didn’t want to do research as a career. Mostly just being able to handle the workload and understanding going to classes and paying attention is helpful.

What is the advantage of being in downtown Toronto for this program?Raquel standing in front of a midwifery display

It is very convenient for getting to class. We have a lot of morning classes so it’s nice living close in residence. For one of our classes, we have to visit a midwifery practice nearby so being able to visit an urban, downtown midwifery practice is interesting because a lot of the ones I visited when I was looking into the program were rural ones near home in Cobourg. It was cool to see midwifery through this Toronto, urban sprawl lens because it is very different from rural midwifery. It’s the same amount of driving, but you drive so much further in the country (laughs). You drive such a short distance in the city but it takes you just as long.

What is your favourite part of Ryerson? It can be anything!

Definitely living in Toronto would be, again, a big one. It’s close to home, I can GO-Train to home. There’s always stuff going on, literally right by Yonge-Dundas Square, it’s so nice. I do like the residences. There’s a lot about living in residence, to be honest, it’s not as bad for as much as I complain about it. Again, my program is very accommodating which I think is awesome. Being in a small program is nice because our classes are very discussion-based and it feels like we get good attention from our professors, chat with them and stuff. The facilities are nice. We have a beautiful classroom that I’m very thankful for. The little midwifery corner in the Daphne Cockwell Complex (DCC) is very nice, it’s new this year so we’re happy to have that.

Last question, what’s one piece of advice you would give to future students?

This is hard. I don’t want to go for the cliche “university is more than your grades” because for so many people your grades are important and I don’t want to diminish that. I feel like on one hand, your grades are important because some of us do more school after university so it’s important to keep them up. At the same time, when I think about McMaster I think about the clubs I was in, the people that I lived with and the labs I did – I feel like that’s where the learning comes from. I would say that my advice to future students is that it takes everybody a lot longer than we think to get where we want to be and what you want to do with your life. Sometimes that involves a lot of school, which can be expensive and frustrating. Just don’t feel like you have to rush things and finish things if you’re not enjoying them. If something sings to you, it’s worth looking into and if it still sings to you it’s worth at least applying.

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