Research skills in practice
Kelda Folliard and Ruth Sanders discuss facilitating the conceptual leap for student midwives towards embedding evidence-based practice and research in midwifery
In clinical practice, how often do midwives stop and think about the evidence behind the care provided? Do midwives routinely discuss research findings with colleagues, or challenge the validity of new recommendations? How do midwives ensure their practice is always contemporary and evidence-based, not simply founded on the practice that has come before?
Healthcare is continually shifting in response to new knowledge and understanding. The expectation is that clinicians will work within a contemporary research-base, with students developing evidence-based practice through theory and placement learning. For this to succeed, students need to be supported by midwives who role model evidence-based practice and research, and with learning that facilitates the conceptual leap towards embedding evidence-based practice and research in their emerging midwifery practice (Reid et al, 2017).
Whether in clinical or academic settings, all midwives are educators, with a responsibility to nurture student confidence in evidence-based practice and research; partnership working between practice and approved education institutions is key (Holland and Lauder, 2012). However, teaching evidence-based practice and research presents a challenge for students and educators alike. It is widely acknowledged that nursing and midwifery students find evidence-based practice and research a challenging subject (Newton et al, 2010; Sidebotham et al, 2014). The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2019) standards of proficiency for midwives, state that new registrants should be prepared to critically appraise and interpret research evidence to inform decision-making and develop practice, including being able to evaluate and discuss practice implications where there is conflicting or absent research evidence. This relationship with research evidence must begin during pre-registration training and be maintained in the years beyond qualification.
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