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Maternity Connect: An evaluation of a professional upskilling education program for rural midwives and nurses

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      Background

      Rural and regional health services often experience difficulties maintaining their maternity services and skills of their midwifery workforce to enable women and their babies to safely birth closer to home. The Maternity Connect Program (MCP) is a clinical exposure education program for upskilling rural and regional midwives and nurses across Victoria to meet their maternity population needs.

      Aim

      To evaluate the Maternity Connect Program from the perspectives and experiences of participating midwives/nurses and health services.

      Methods

      A retrospective audit of data routinely collected from 2018-2021 by MCP as part of a placements: Participants complete baseline survey (initial needs), and one month and six month post placements surveys. Placement and base Health services are also surveyed. The main outcome measures were: participants (midwives and health services) level of satisfaction with the program; and changes in midwives/nurses perceived level of confidence in performing key midwifery skills after participating in the program.

      Results

      Respondents (n=213 midwives/nurses; n=30 base health services; n=9 placement health services) were satisfied with the programed there was an increase in midwives/nurses’ confidence when providing specific aspects of maternity care (birthing, neonatal, and postnatal). Midwives/nurses report transferring skills learnt back to their base health service.

      Conclusion

      The Maternity Connect Program appears to be a successful educational model for maintaining and increasing clinician confidence in rural maternity health services. Furthermore, it appears to be assisting with retention of the midwifery workforce in Victoria.
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