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Continuity of care experiences: A national cross-sectional survey exploring the views and experiences of Australian students and academics

      Abstract

      Background

      Continuity of Care Experiences (CoCEs) are a component of all entry-to-practice midwifery programs in Australia and facilitate an understanding of the central midwifery philosophy of woman-centred care and continuity of the therapeutic relationship. The aim of this research was to explore how CoCEs are viewed and experienced by students and academics across Australia.

      Methods

      Students enrolled in Australian midwifery programs and academics who teach into these programs were invited to participate in a cross sectional, web-based survey. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and free text responses were analysed using content analysis.

      Findings

      Four hundred and five students and 61 academics responded to the survey. The CoCE was viewed as a positive and unique learning experience, preparing students to work in midwifery-led continuity models and developing confidence in their midwifery role. Challenges in recruitment, participation in care, and balancing the workload with other course requirements were evident in reports from students, but less understood by academics. Significant personal impact on finances, health and wellbeing of students were also reported.

      Discussion

      The value of CoCEs as an experiential learning opportunity is clear, however, many students report being challenged by elements of the CoCE within current models as they try to maintain study-work-life balance.

      Conclusion

      Innovative course structure that considers and embeds the CoCE requirements within the curricula, in addition to a collective commitment from regulatory bodies, the maternity care sector and Universities to facilitate CoCEs for students may address some of the significant student impacts that are reported by this research.

      Keywords

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