Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The annual National Student Midwife Debate organised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) was held on Friday, 4 November 2022 in University College Cork (UCC) with the UCC School of Nursing and Midwifery.

The event saw six student midwives, from each of the six education bodies that offer midwifery, compete in two teams to debate for or against a motion. This year’s motion was: ‘This house believes that the diminishing ‘normal birth’ rate is a threat to the midwifery profession’.

It was a lively and engaging debate with Nadia Hutton representing Trinity College Dublin, Laura O’Sullivan representing University College Cork and Claudia Donnelly representing Dundalk Institute of Technology debating for the motion, and Khayla Timothy representing University of Limerick, Lia Kehoe representing University College Dublin and Hannah Flaherty representing University of Galway debating against the motion.

Khayla Timothy, from Co Galway, who is studying midwifery at University of Limerick won the prize for best speaker at the debate.

President of the NMBI, Essene Cassidy, said: “This annual debate gives students an excellent opportunity to broaden their knowledge and understanding of the profession and inspire new thinking around topics relating to midwifery. Midwives play an instrumental role in supporting monitoring and encouraging women and their families at all stages of a woman’s pregnancy, labour and birth, and during the postnatal period. Debating skills are essential to advocating for the best care at all these stages of care.

“The speakers were a credit to their team and their education bodies. They showed conviction and passion. I would particularly like to  congratulate the winning student, Khayla Timothy, who passionately argued against the motion.”

Fran McConville, Midwifery Advisor to the World Health Organization, joined the event via video stream to thank the debaters for their robust arguments. She shared her insights into how the midwifery profession will be critical in the 21st century. Sarah Benson, Chairperson of Women’s Aid, provided an overview of domestic violence in Ireland and how it can be identified in maternity settings. Attendees also heard from Sheila McClelland, CEO of NMBI; Dawn Johnston, Director of Midwifery at NMBI and Dr Geri McLoughlin, Midwife Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC.

This year’s judging panel included Denise Lawler, Chair of Midwives Committee, NMBI; Sarah Benson, CEO Women’s Aid Ireland and Mary Higgins, retired midwife and former Board Member International Confederation of Midwives.

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