Exploring the 'follow-through experience': A statewide survey of midwifery students and academics conducted in Victoria, Australia.

Midwifery

PubMedID: 23427854

McLachlan HL, Newton M, Nightingale H, Morrow J, Kruger G. Exploring the 'follow-through experience': A statewide survey of midwifery students and academics conducted in Victoria, Australia. Midwifery. 2013;29(9):1064-72.
OBJECTIVE
follow-through experiences (which enable midwifery students to experience continuity of care with individual women through pregnancy, labour and birth and the postnatal period) are a component of midwifery education programmes in Australia and the United Kingdom. Current accreditation standards in Australia require midwifery students to have a total of 20 continuity of care experiences with an average of 20 hours per woman over the duration of their course. There has been limited research regarding students' and academics' experiences of follow-through experiences; and there has been debate regarding the appropriate number of follow-through experiences in midwifery curricula. This study aimed to explore the follow-through experience from the perspective of midwifery students and academics in Victoria, Australia.

DESIGN
cross-sectional design using a web-based survey.

SETTING
Victoria, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS
students (n=401) and academics (n=35) from all seven universities in Victoria that offer accredited midwifery programmes including the Bachelor of Midwifery, Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery double degree, Postgraduate Diploma of Midwifery and Masters of Midwifery (entry to practice).

FINDINGS
students and academics were in agreement that continuity of care is important to women. They considered the follow-through experience to be a unique and valuable learning opportunity and agreed that follow-through experiences should be included in midwifery education programmes. However, students and academics raised major concerns about the impact of follow-through experiences on students' capacity to meet university course requirements (such as missing lectures/tutorials and clinical placements), and spending extensive periods of time on-call both within and outside the university semester. Students and academics also reported concerns about the impact of follow-through experiences on students' personal lives, including paid employment and family responsibilities (such as childcare or caring for family members).

KEY CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE
in settings where continuity of care options for women are relatively limited, prescriptive requirements regarding the number and hours of follow-through experiences can present significant challenges for midwifery students. Midwifery regulatory bodies should consider these findings when developing or revising standards for midwifery education.