Professor Debra Bick
Professor of Evidence Based Midwifery Practice
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?
When I was an undergraduate history student, reading about the levels of maternal mortality in the 19th and early 20th century in England and the important role that public health, education and employment of women, and access to universal health services made to maternal and infant health. On graduating, I completed my general nurse training and then my midwifery training. After having my own children I accepted a post as a research midwife and so enjoyed the work, that I completed my master’s and then my PhD!
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
My main areas of interest are maternal physical and psychological morbidity post-birth.
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
I’ve represented midwifery on several major policy groups, recommendations of which are helping to re-frame the organisation and content of maternity care in the UK. My research has been used to inform the evidence base for maternity care in the UK and internationally, and work I have led is informing a number of online learning resources for midwives and obstetricians, nationally and internationally. A postnatal project I led won an All Party Parliamentary Maternity Group award in 2009.
Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?
I’ve benefited from working with senior women academics who were really encouraging and supportive of my career development. At the same time, I could see that they were juggling many aspects of their lives (which their male counter-parts didn’t seem to need to do) which was even more inspiring in terms of what they were able to achieve.
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
I find teaching and supervision of masters and PhD students very rewarding. It’s great to feel that students you have worked with leave their education at under-graduate and post-graduate levels committed to research and appreciate the importance of high quality evidence to inform care. It’s great to see where PhD students move onto after their time at KCL and how many of them are influencing maternity care in other parts of the globe.
How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?
It’s a bit of a juggling act and I need a good diary manager! Most of my time is taken with research and PG supervision and I do have to ask students to send me work to read several days before any planned meetings.
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
Probably not as well as I should (which would definitely be the view of my family!). An academic career is not a 9 to 5 job and much of my writing is actually done at weekends when I don’t have work demands. I do try to say ‘no’ to some work requests but it’s a slippery slope.
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
Enjoy it but try not to sacrifice life outside of work. I would like to think I’ve been a role model for my own daughters to show them that women can achieve senior positions in academia, but I know that they have seen what I’ve had to sacrifice in terms of holidays, weekends etc to get to this position.