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Midwifery workplace culture in Sydney, Australia

  • Christine Catling
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author at: School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia.
    Affiliations
    Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
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  • Chris Rossiter
    Affiliations
    Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
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  • Allison Cummins
    Affiliations
    Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
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  • Erica McIntyre
    Affiliations
    Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, Australia

    School of Public Health, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
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      Abstract

      Problem

      Aspects of the midwifery workplace culture have previously been measured as negative with limited leadership or support. Support for midwives is essential for them to face the complexity and workloads in Australian maternity units.

      Background

      Understanding the culture of the midwifery workplace is important to develop strategies to stem workforce attrition and to optimise care of women and their families.

      Aims

      This study aimed to assess midwives’ perceptions of workplace culture in two maternity units in Sydney, Australia, and compare the results with a national study using the same validated instrument.

      Method

      This study reports results using the Australian Midwifery Workplace Culture instrument (n = 49 midwives) and stakeholder groups (n = 10). Simple descriptive statistics were used, and the qualitative responses were analysed thematically.

      Findings

      Compared to the national sample, participants rated their workplace more favourably, especially their relationships with managers and colleagues. Over one-third (36.7%) considered that their workplace had a positive culture, compared with 27.9%. However, they rated their workplaces more negatively on time constraints and staff resources, and reported limited autonomy. Workplaces were highly medicalised which impacted their philosophy of woman-centred care and their ability to work autonomously.

      Discussion

      Factors related to collegiality in the workplace, relationship with managers, midwives’ intention to leave the profession and time constraints are discussed in comparison to the national study, as well as other relevant research.
      Conclusion Workplace collaboration, support, respect and understanding were extremely important to midwives, as were adequate staffing levels, teamwork and opportunities for further education.

      Keywords

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