Inaugural lecture: 'Great Expectations: the unexpected journey of a midwife'

Leonard Deacon Lecture Theatre, Medical School Building, University of Birmingham
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Medical and Dental Sciences, Research
Wednesday 5th December 2018 (16:30-17:30)
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Please get in touch with Yvonne Dawson if you have any questions or would like more information.

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Professor Sara Kenyon

Professor Sara KenyonProfessor of Evidence Based Maternity Care, Institute of Applied Health Research

As a midwife by background my career pathway was not laid out and while there is now a clearer pathway for midwives to pursue an academic career supported by the National Institute for Health Research, that has not always been the case. I will describe the pathway that has led to my appointment starting with my school days and working as a nurse and then a midwife. I then worked in obstetric ultrasound, where I pioneered midwives scanning and was involved in the beginnings of the support group Antenatal Results and Choices. 

My first research job was working as a research midwife on the ORACLE trial, which evaluated the effects of prescription of erythromycin or co-amoxiclav for women with either preterm rupture of the membranes (PROM) or spontaneous preterm labour (SPL) with intact membranes and no overt infection, using a 2x2 factorial design. Over 11,000 women joined the trial from 132 maternity units worldwide. The results were published in the Lancet in 2001 and continue to influence international guidance.

I then went on to lead the ORACLE Children Study (OCS) which sought follow up information for surviving children at 7 years of age in the UK using a parent-report postal questionnaire. This involved the follow-up of over 8,000 children whose mothers joined the ORACLE Trial and publication in the Lancet in 2008. During this period I lead the NICE Intrapartum Care Guideline published 2007.

I was appointed as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham in 2009 to the NIHR Collaboration for Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) in the West Midlands to work on the Maternity component of the Maternity Theme. Over the last 10 years I have loved working alongside clinical practice to investigate and evaluate relevant issues using the most robust methodologies. This has included the development, implementation and evaluation of a maternity triage system with Dr Nina Johns, which is now rolling out nationally.

I am leading the High or Low Dose Syntocinon Trial (HOLDS) which is a multicentre, pragmatic, randomised, double blind controlled trial will recruit 1500 women from 30 Maternity units to evaluate the effect on CS rate of high dose regimen versus standard dose regimen oxytocin for nulliparous women at term (37-42 weeks gestation) with confirmed delay in the first stage of labour using NICE definitions.

I am also a member of the 'MBRRACE-UK' collaboration appointed by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) to continue the national programme of work investigating maternal deaths, stillbirths and infant deaths, including the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths (CEMD). I am also part of the collaboration developing and implementing the Perinatal Mortality Review Tool to standardise review of perinatal death.

My talk will reflect on my pathway and experiences as well as current opportunities for nurses and midwives to progress into academia. 

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