Learning through relationships: The transformative learning experience of midwifery continuity of care for students: A qualitative study

Published:December 26, 2022DOI:



      Midwifery curricula in Australia incorporate ‘Continuity of care experiences’ (CoCE) as an educational strategy based on an assumption that midwifery students will learn skills and knowledge about woman-centred care that they may not learn in the typical fragmented care system. However, exactly what skills and knowledge they are expected to ‘learn’ and how these can be assessed have never been specifically identified.


      To explore midwifery students’ continuity of care learning experiences within pre-registration midwifery education.


      Focus groups were conducted with first, second and third year Bachelor of Midwifery students (n = 12), who were undertaking CoCE in rural and regional tertiary hospitals in NSW, Australia.


      The overarching theme, ‘Learning through relationships’, was made up of three interrelated themes: Meeting women and making connections, Being known, and Understanding holistic care.


      The findings from this study contribute to understanding the educational effects of CoCE. The CoCE relationship provided safety and freedom to learn which was seen as foundational for midwifery students’ vision of their future practice and can be seen as a self-determined transformational approach to learning.


      This study adds insight into midwifery students’ experience of CoCE, and demonstrates that transformative learning occurs through developing a relationship with both the woman and the midwife. For midwifery to develop as a profession and maintain its focus on woman-centredness, it is important that this aspect of midwifery education remains embedded within midwifery program philosophies and learning outcomes.


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