And you thought pracs were an easy option?
One of the more enjoyable parts of any course of study is when you get to put what you have learnt into action! Placements are an essential part of many degrees…imagine trainee teachers never having set foot inside a classroom by the time of their graduation. I also like the idea of medical trainees practicing before they venture into the ‘proper’ workplace….not that I want to get side-tracked but I do have a thing with blood testers. On two occasions I have been tempted to ask for someone else to draw my blood and both times were forced to reassess my prejudices.
One the first occasion the young guy at the clinic told me he was an architecture student doing this for some spare money but a lot of his mates were medical students. I did get into the conversation about how that doesn’t make you a medical student, you know, but by the time I had launched into my main argument it was all over and was probably one of the better needles I have had. The second time I nearly asked for a re-draw of who would would blood-draw was when a kid wondered into the room and before I could ask if he was lost and where was his mummy? he was asking me to confirm my name and date of birth! Call me age-ist but I was worried about him sticking a needle into me when he didn’t really look old enough to play with scissors by himself *anyway, I digress*…(but he was great). Clearly practical training on it’s own can be a winner too)…
Placements are enriching, challenging, stimulating and intense. They can often be the best part of the whole degree but….for student mothers they can be a NIGHTMARE!
Some of the issues that are difficult for student mothers are:
Having to be at an organisation (like a school) before childcare opens
Having to arrange childcare for the entire period of the placement. For example, teaching placements can last upwards of six weeks which means parents need to find care for additional days over an extended period* but* not for a long term period (oh, won’t the childcare centre just love you asking for this!
Having to pay for this additional care when the “work” you are doing is unpaid. Regardless of how rewarding the practical experience is bills and expenses still keep knocking at the door while no money is coming in.
Following on from that…during a practical it is often not possible to maintain one’s regular paid employment. Unless you do a lot of forward planning and have a very sympathetic employer, this creates it’s own set of problems and mothers I have spoken with worry this adds to them being placed in the “too-hard-to-employ here” basket.
The point of this discussion is just to raise awareness around the extra difficulties mothers (parents) who study face during what is considered a very ‘normal’ component of their course. I know the argument is made that these students know what is involved when they enrol and yes, that is very true…BUT just like we would never say to students in wheelchairs “don’t complain about the stairs you knew they were here when you enrolled” neither should we say to student mothers and fathers “suck it up and keep your difficulties and issues to yourself”.