Developing midwifery practice through work-based learning: an exploratory study.

Marshall, Jayne E. (2012) Developing midwifery practice through work-based learning: an exploratory study. Nurse Education in Practice, 12(5), pp. 273-278. ISSN (print) 1471-5953


AIM: To explore what effect the introduction of a Work-Based Learning Module undertaken by midwives in a range of maternity settings has had on their personal professional development, as well as the impact on developing local maternity and neonatal care provision. METHODOLOGY: A case study approach was used consisting of mixed methods. Quantitative data were collected through questionnaires from midwives and their Clinical Supervisors at the end of the module, with a survey questionnaire to each midwifery manager, six months following the implementation of the midwives' project in practice. Qualitative data were collected by focus groups at six different work place locations, with health professionals who had experienced the midwives' projects within the workplace. Quantitative data were manually analysed whereas content analysis was used to identify recurrent themes from the qualitative data, with the support of Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software. The University of Nottingham granted ethical approval for the study. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Twelve midwives who undertook the work-based module, their respective Clinical Supervisors (n = 12), their employers/managers (n = 12) and health professionals (n = 28) within six individual National Health Service Trusts in the East Midlands of the United Kingdom took part in the study. FINDINGS: The work-based learning module not only led to the personal and professional development of the midwife, but also to improving multi-professional collaboration and the consequential development of maternity services within the local Trusts. The value of leading change by completing an innovative and tangible work-based project through a flexible mode of study strengthened the midwives' clinical credibility among colleagues and employers and supports the philosophy of inter-professional learning and working. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: This novel Work Based approach to learning has the potential to further develop the provision of post-registration education for midwives and other health professionals, as it helps to bridge the theory-practice gap. Learning in the workplace is efficient and cost effective to employee and employer and serves in increasing the link between higher education and the workplace. Furthermore, as the principles of work-based learning could be transferred to other contexts outside of the United Kingdom, such an approach has the potential to directly influence the development of global midwifery education and maternity services and ultimately benefit mothers, their babies and families throughout the world.

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