Research Article|Articles in Press

The experience of rural midwives in dual roles as nurse and midwife: “I’d prefer midwifery but I chose to live here”



      To explore and describe the experiences of working in the dual role as nurse and midwife in rural areas of far north Queensland, Australia.


      The methodology was informed by Heidegger's interpretive phenomenological philosophy and data analysis was guided by van Manen's analytical approach. Data was generated by conversational interviews. Eight midwives working in a dual role as midwife and nurse were interviewed individually.


      Three themes were identified: Making choices between professional role and lifestyle: “Because I choose to live here”; Integration of maternity and general nursing: “All in together this fine weather” and: “That's part of working in a small place”.


      Participants recognized that in rural areas it is important to be a multi-skilled generalist; however they were concerned that midwifery skills could be eroded or even lost with the diminishing amounts of midwifery work available. Appropriate re-structuring of maternity services could provide better use of the midwifery workforce in rural centres, and reduce the current problems associated with transferring birthing mothers to larger facilities. Further research is needed to examine the extent to which the requirement to work in a dual, or multifaceted role is an impediment to the recruitment and retention of midwives to rural areas.


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