Melissa Blake is a Registered Nurse and Registered Midwife. She holds a Masters in Professional Education and Training and commenced her PhD (part-time) in 2016. Throughout her career, Melissa has worked mainly in women’s and children’s health, domiciliary, research and casual academic roles. Her research explores the influences on mothers who are breastfeeding their late preterm infant within the context of a Special Care Nursery and she hopes it will help to guide future feeding practices within Special Care Nurseries and ultimately improve infant outcomes.
What does the year of the Nurse and Midwife mean to you?
To me, it’s global recognition of the industrious achievements of nurses and midwives. Nurses and midwives are being recognised for their many and varied contributions to healthcare. Not only do nurses and midwives provide care and compassion to the sick, they are a voice and advocate for the vulnerable, they guide and monitor women through pregnancy and childbirth, provide health education and conduct research for the ongoing improvement of clinical practice. Celebrating the Year of the Nurse and Midwife makes me very proud of our collective achievements.
Over the course of your life what has been your proudest accomplishment?
Having my four children and watching them become independent adults. They bring a smile to my face every day.
Over the course of your career what has been your proudest accomplishment?
I was nominated by Barwon Health for the Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020. I’m honoured to have been recognised by my managers, colleagues and from the families that I’ve cared for.
What did you want to be when you were younger? And when did you decide to become a nurse or midwife?
Since primary school, I always wanted to be a nurse, but I don’t think I fully comprehended what nurses really did. It wasn’t until I undertook a maternity experience placement during my general nursing training (at Mercy Private Hospital, East Melbourne) that I realised I wanted to study midwifery. For me, learning about midwifery (Mercy Maternity Hospital, East Melbourne) was the start of an enjoyable career that has given me the opportunity to work in many varied roles over the years.
What inspires you to do your job?
The interactions I have with the women and their families in Special Care Nursery are very rewarding. To watch their journey and to eventually see the families take their premature baby home gives me a great sense of job satisfaction and happiness. Being a mentor to younger nurses and midwives who are at the beginning their careers is another enjoyable aspect of my job. It’s rewarding to see their skills and confidence grow over time.
What got you interested in becoming a researcher in the area of nursing and midwifery; what do you hope to achieve with your research?
My initial ideas were about bringing about a change of culture within my workplace and the professional learning of staff. When I did my Masters in Professional Education and Training at Deakin, the experience gave me insight into research and set me on the PhD journey. I could see other issues impacting patient outcomes that I wanted to explore. Mothers who had premature babies within the Special Care Nursery were finding it difficult to establish and maintain their milk supply. My research proposal was to address infant feeding practices within a Special Care Nursery. I hope that my research will bring about improved practices on management for mothers who are trying to establish breastfeeding with their premature baby. In addition, I hope my research addresses the gaps in the professional learning of midwives and neonatal nurses.
Photo courtesy of Barwon Health (Facebook)