Support for Learning in the Clinical Area: The Experience of Post-Registration Student Midwives
Keywords:Student midwives, learning support, clinical environment.
Prior to 2006 Irish midwifery education was available only in the form of postgraduate in-hospital training to registered nurses. Since 2006 midwifery education continues to be offered as a postgraduate course but it is also available as a direct entry undergraduate programme in a number of Irish third level institutions. In line with these changes in Irish midwifery education, the National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing and Midwifery (2005) identified, among other priorities, the need to provide educational support for student midwives in the clinical area because acquisition of fundamental skills will facilitate their smooth and sound transition into the workforce given that they will be the future functioning midwives. This study explores postgraduate post registration student midwives' experiences of learning support in the clinical area. A qualitative phenomenological approach was used. The students were registered in one of the Schools of Midwifery in an Irish third level institution. A purposive sample of six student midwives participated in individual face-to-face tape-recorded interviews to discuss their experiences. Data analysis revealed six major themes that represent student midwives' experiences of support for learning in the clinical setting — lack of support, learning environment, employee status, support strategies, ways of learning, and theory-practice integration. During the clinical learning process participants felt abandoned by the more senior staff while the senior students and the newly qualified midwives were supportive.
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