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The exploration of professional midwifery autonomy: Understanding and experiences of final-year midwifery students

Vermeulen, J, Buyl, R, Luyben, A, Fleming, V, Tency, I and Fobelets, M (2024) The exploration of professional midwifery autonomy: Understanding and experiences of final-year midwifery students. Nurse Education Today, 134. ISSN 0260-6917

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Background: The concept of professional midwifery autonomy holds great significance in midwifery education. Notably, clinical placements play a crucial role in introducing students to its concept. However, the understanding and experiences of students regarding midwifery autonomy are relatively unknown. Objectives: This study aimed to examine the experiences and understanding of midwifery autonomy among final-year midwifery students. Methods: A qualitative exploratory study using three focus group interviews with final-year midwifery students from each of the three Belgian regions; Flanders, Walloon and the Brussels Capital Region. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic analysis. Results: Upon data analysis, five key themes emerged; 1) working independently, 2) positive learning environment, 3) professional context, 4) actions and decisions of others and 5) beneficial for women. Students emphasized the importance of promoting professional midwifery autonomy through the ability to make their own professional decisions and take initiatives. They highlighted the need for a safe and supportive learning environment that encourages independent practice, nurtures self-governance and facilitates personal growth. Additionally, collaborative relationships with other maternity care professionals and increased awareness among women and the broader healthcare community were identified as essential factors in embracing and promoting professional midwifery autonomy. Conclusions: Our study provides valuable insights into the significance of midwifery autonomy among final-year midwifery students. To empower midwifery students to truly understand and experience professional midwifery autonomy, educators and preceptors should adopt strategies that enhance comprehension, foster independent yet collaborative practice, establish supportive learning environments, and equip students to navigate challenges effectively, ultimately improving maternal and new-born health.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Humans; Focus Groups; Midwifery; Pregnancy; Qualitative Research; Students; Students, Nursing; Maternal Health Services; Female; Autonomy; Maternity care; Midwifery; Midwifery autonomy; Midwifery education, midwifery students; Midwives; Professionalisation; Humans; Female; Pregnancy; Midwifery; Maternal Health Services; Qualitative Research; Focus Groups; Students; Students, Nursing; 1110 Nursing; 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy; Nursing
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: Public Health Institute
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 05 Apr 2024 09:23
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2024 09:23
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.nedt.2024.106101
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22957
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