With the NHS under increasing pressure, and with questions about the long-term funding of the organisation posed by Health Minister Jeremy Hunt this week, maternity services are among those that have seen financial shortfalls in recent years, especially in areas of training and post-natal care.
Cuts together with constraints across the service have resulted in greater difficulty for students to meet the professional standards required for registration. A problem recognised by Bournemouth University (BU), the institution has established a facilitated, student midwife led postnatal clinic offering postnatal care to women within the community setting – the first of its kind in the UK. SMiLE clinics, or Student Midwife integrated Learning Environments, are an innovation unique to the UK, but are currently practiced in other parts of the world, like the USA.
Dana Colbourne, a Post Graduate Researcher & Midwife with 14 years' professional experience, currently teaches midwifery at BU’s Portsmouth Campus, and is researching into how this new form of integrated learning can benefit both student midwives and new parents.
Dana said: “The SMiLE clinic is a fabulous initiative, it stands for student midwife integrated learning environment and it’s a student-led clinic where students take ownership and lead the way in their own post-natal learning opportunities, facilitated by a qualified midwife mentor. We train student midwives from Portsmouth Hospital Trust, as well as the Isle of Wight, St Mary’s and Basingstoke. In September, we will also be training those from Winchester too.
“It’s quite unique in the UK – in the US, it’s used to train their medical students, but it has a different purpose; to serve the uninsured. We use it as an educational model where it works extremely well – I have research that I’m writing up at the moment with great findings about ownership and belonging, but also that learning strategies are really helping student midwives to gain their core skills and competencies in post-natal care.
Dana’s research aim is to investigate the phenomenon of a student led clinic and to understand what learning occurs in this environment for students.
The research adopted a case study approach, recognising the value of exploring the student midwives’ experiences and learning opportunities within a particular setting, influenced by organisation, provision, content of care, and protocols to guide practice. Data has been collected from multiple sources to capture the interactional dynamics of working with midwives, women, service provider and educationalists.
It is anticipated that the findings will contribute to new knowledge identifying what, how and why learning occurs within in a student midwife led postnatal clinic. This will then inform and advance change within the midwifery curriculum, as well as supporting the commitments of the practice environment to their development and teaching of student midwives.
Dana added: “Portsmouth campus is the best place, it’s friendly, we’re passionate, there’s lots of energy, students engage well in their learning and I’d like to say there are some fantastic staff that really help their students to have the best learning experiences they can.”
To read more about midwifery courses across our Bournemouth and Portsmouth campuses, visit: https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/study/courses/bsc-hons-midwifery