Pre-registration midwifery programmes: a case study evaluation of the non-midwifery placements

D M Fraser
Midwifery 1996, 12 (1): 16-22

OBJECTIVE: to evaluate the effectiveness of non-midwifery placements in enabling pre-registration (direct entry) student midwives to learn about caring for childbearing women with medical, surgical or mental health problems and needs.

DESIGN: case study.

SETTING: a large midwifery education department and three acute general hospitals in England.

PARTICIPANTS: 15 student midwives in the first intake of one college's three-year diploma programme in midwifery plus the practitioners involved in their education.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: the learning needs of student midwives, who have no previous health-care experience, to enable them to care effectively for women with medical/surgical/mental health problems; the teaching processes and learning opportunities related to these aspects of care; how the views of teachers and practice placement staff compare with those of the students; the factors that influence the teaching and learning processes and experiences for pre-registration student midwives.

FINDINGS: the broad range of experiences in medical/surgical/metal health placements enabled students to increase in maturity, and confidence and develop their communication skills. The variety of placements enhanced student understanding of the multi-disciplinary team's contribution to health care, students learned new practical skills which were transferable to maternity care contexts and all students had opportunities to care for adults with most of the medical/surgical/mental health problems seen in childbearing women.

CONCLUSION: this action research project provided data for curriculum development and helped to avoid premature reaction to individual staff and student response. The value of the medical/surgical/mental health placements and the importance of staff and student preparation for effective learning was established. Whilst it might be essential to identify what and where student midwives should learn, it would appear that developing each student must be an equal, if not greater, priority for curriculum designers.

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