Learning to be a midwife: Midwifery students’ experiences of an extended placement within a midwifery group practice

  • Kathleen Baird
    Corresponding author at: School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia.
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia

    Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health
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  • Carolyn R. Hastie
    School of Nursing and Midwifery Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Parklands Drive, Southport, Queensland 4222, Australia
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  • Paula Stanton
    Women-Newborn-Children’s Services, Gold Coast Health, Gold Coast University Hospital, 1 Boulevard Avenue, Parklands, Southport, Queensland 4215, Australia
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  • Jenny Gamble
    School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, University Drive, Meadowbrook, Queensland 4131, Australia

    Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative
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Published:January 28, 2021DOI:



      To investigate the experiences, perspectives and plans of students who had a six-month placement with the midwifery group practice.


      Focus groups were conducted with fifteen third – year Bachelor of Midwifery students who had undertaken an extended placement at a midwifery group practice in a large tertiary referral hospital in Queensland, Australia.


      Four main themes were identified in the data: Expectations of the Placement; Facilitating learning within a midwifery group practice model; Transitioning between models of care and Philosophy and culture of midwifery group practice.

      Discussion and conclusion

      Third-year midwifery students valued the experience of working one-on-one for an extended placement with a midwife providing continuity of care within a caseload model. The experience was the highlight of their degree and they learned ‘how to be a midwife’. Most students found reintegrating back into the hospital system of care challenging, reporting that their developed skills of supporting women holistically and facilitating normal birth were not fully utilised when returning to the task-orientated birth suite. Students valued thoughtful, kind and supportive midwifery preceptors who supported them to transition back into the hospital.

      Implications and recommendations

      Undertaking an extended placement within a midwifery group practice provides students with a rich and holistic learning experience and helps them develop a sense of professional identity. Student placements situated within models of care which provide continuity of midwifery care should be proactively enabled by health services and universities. Research of the longer-term impacts of an extended midwifery group practice clinical placement on midwifery graduates’ capabilities and competencies 3–5 years post registration should be conducted.


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