Australian midwives’ experiences of their workplace culture

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Journal Article
Women and Birth, 2017, 30 (2), pp. 137 - 145
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© 2016 Australian College of Midwives Background A number of adverse events in Australia and overseas have highlighted the need to examine the workplace culture in the maternity environment. Little attention has been paid to the midwifery workplace culture in Australia. Aim The study aimed to explore the midwifery workplace culture from the perspective of midwives themselves. Methods A qualitative descriptive design was used. Group and individual interviews were undertaken of urban, regional and rural-based midwives in Australia. Data were analysed thematically. Findings The study showed that both new and experienced midwives felt frustrated by organisational environments and attitudes, and expressed strategies to cope with this. Five themes were identified from the data. These were: Bullying and resilience, Fatigued and powerless midwives, Being ‘hampered by the environment’, and The importance of support for midwifery. Discussion The study discusses the themes in depth. In particular, discussion focusses on how midwifery practise was affected by midwives’ workplace culture and model of care, and the importance of supportive relationships from peers and managers. Conclusion This study illuminated both positive and negative aspects of the midwifery workplace culture in Australia. One way to ensure the wellbeing and satisfaction of midwives in order to maintain the midwifery workforce and provide quality care to women and their families is to provide positive workplace cultures.
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