Midwifery workplace culture in Australia: A national survey of midwives

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Women and Birth, 2019
Issue Date:
2019-01-01
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© 2019 Problem: The midwifery workforce in Australia is impacted by shortages and attrition. Workplace culture affects midwives’ intentions to stay in the profession and their capacity to provide woman-centred care for mothers and infants. Background: Staff attrition in maternity services often relates to midwives’ workplace experiences and negative perceptions of organisational culture. Broad-based data are essential to fully understand midwifery workplace culture. Aim: This study aimed to examine Australian midwives’ perceptions of workplace culture, using a specifically developed instrument. Methods: A national online survey of Australian midwives, within a wider project on maternity workplace culture. Quantitative data were analysed descriptively. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis. Findings: Overall, 322 eligible midwives rated workplace culture and 150 provided further qualitative responses. Themes included ‘the ability to be a midwife’, ‘support at work’ and ‘bullying’. Less than a third of midwives thought their workplace had a positive culture. Many respondents felt disengaged and unsupported by managers and described an inability to use all their midwifery knowledge in medically-dominated environments. Many attributed poor workplace culture to limited resources, poor communication, time pressure and a lack of leadership in their workplaces. Inadequate staffing levels and poor management left many midwives feeling disempowered and despondent about their workplace. Others, however, described highly positive workplace cultures and inspiring role models. Conclusion: The survey captured a snapshot of Australian midwifery workplace culture. Findings on leadership, workloads, management support and other aspects of workplace culture can inform future workforce planning and policies. A larger study of the midwifery workplace culture is needed.
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