Factors that contribute to midwives staying in midwifery : a study in one Area Health Service in NSW

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The aim of this study was to investigate the factors that contribute to midwives in one Area Health Service in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, staying in midwifery. The study was set in the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service (NSCCAHS), Australia. A descriptive design underpinned the research. The study was conducted over two phases. Phase One involved focus groups to assess the suitability of a questionnaire for the Australian setting. The questionnaire was previously used in similar research in England. Phase Two was the distribution of the questionnaire and analysis of the data obtained. Both qualitative and quantitative data were obtained in the research, though most data were quantitative in nature. The quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics while content analysis was used on the qualitative data. The study sample consisted of midwives working within NSCCAHS who were employed full-time, part-time or on a casual basis. A total of 392 midwives were surveyed with a response rate of 53% (n=209). The results provided information on the factors which contribute to midwives staying in midwifery. The top three factors identified for midwives staying in midwifery were: relationships with women, professional identity as a midwife and the practice of midwifery. This study has implications for Area Health Services and Health Departments in Australia. If midwifery workforce shortages are to be improved Area Health Services and Health Departments must examine the way in which care is organised and ensure support systems are in place to support advantageous models of care and the midwives who work within them.
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