Students' perceptions of the follow-through experience in 3 year bachelor of midwifery programmes in Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Midwifery, 2013, 29 (4), pp. 400 - 406
Issue Date:
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Background: providing opportunities for students to participate in midwifery continuity of care experiences is a challenge in many midwifery education programmes. The 'follow-through experience' was a deliberate strategy introduced into midwifery education programmes in Australia to ensure that students experienced midwifery continuity of care. The follow through experience provides an opportunity for midwifery students to follow a pre-determined number of women through pregnancy, labour and birth and into the early parenting period. Aim: the aim of this study was to explore the follow-through experience in the 3 year Bachelor of Midwifery (direct entry) in Australia to better understand its impact on midwifery students and to identify the learning that is associated with this experience. Methods: a qualitative methodology was used. Data were collected from former and current Bachelor of Midwifery students through a survey and telephone interviews. Students from all 3-year pre-registration Bachelor of Midwifery programmes in Australia were invited to participate. A thematic analysis was undertaken. Constructivist learning theories were used to identify whether learning occurred in the context of the follow-through experience. Findings: students do learn from their engagement in midwifery continuity of care experiences. Learning was characterised by the primacy of the relationship with the women. Students also identified the challenges they faced which included recruitment of women and finding the time to fully engage with the follow-through experience. Difficulties were identified around the different requirements of the follow-through experience, the lack of support at times for students and the incongruence with the existing maternity system. These issues impacted on students' ability to engage in and maximise their learning. Conclusions: the follow-through experience is an innovative midwifery education strategy that facilitates learning for midwifery students. Challenges need to be addressed at a systematic level and new strategies developed to support the learning opportunities presented by the follow-through experience. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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