Research Article| Volume 33, ISSUE 5, P433-439, September 2020

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Midwifery students’ perspectives on how role models contribute to becoming a midwife: A qualitative study

Published:October 12, 2019DOI:



      The dynamics of maternal and newborn care challenge midwifery education programs to keep up-to-date. To prepare for their professional role in a changing world, role models are important agents for student learning.


      To explore the ways in which Dutch and Icelandic midwifery students identify role models in contemporary midwifery education.


      We conducted a descriptive, qualitative study between August 2017 and October 2018. In the Netherlands, 27 students participated in four focus groups and a further eight in individual interviews. In Iceland, five students participated in one focus group and a further four in individual interviews. All students had clinical experience in primary care and hospital. Data were analyzed using inductive content analysis.


      During their education, midwifery students identify people with attitudes and behaviors they appreciate. Students assimilate these attitudes and behaviors into a role model that represents their ‘ideal midwife’, who they can aspire to during their education. Positive role models portrayed woman-centered care, while students identified that negative role models displayed behaviors not fitting with good care. Students emphasized that they learnt not only by doing, they found storytelling and observing important aspects of role modelling. Students acknowledged the impact of positive midwifery role models on their trust in physiological childbirth and future style of practice.


      Role models contribute to the development of students’ skills, attitudes, behaviors, identity as midwife and trust in physiological childbirth. More explicit and critical attention to how and what students learn from role models can enrich the education program.


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