The same, only different
On a recent trip to Sweden, Louise Silverton CBE was struck by the similarities between midwives in the UK and their Swedish counterparts. What can midwives in both countries learn from each other?
On a visit to present the new model from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) (2017), ‘Stepping up to Public Health’, to midwives in Sweden, I was struck both by how much we have in common and how much is different. There is nothing like seeing UK midwifery through new eyes to make you re-evaluate what we do and how we do it!
Unlike in the UK, all Swedish midwives qualify first as a nurse and then undertake an 18-month midwifery programme. In conversation, Swedish colleagues were therefore surprised to find out that, in the UK, the majority of new midwives are not nurses. We discussed different approaches to midwifery education and I described how midwifery philosophies of care are seen as fundamental from the start of preparation programmes in the UK. Some shared their concerns that such an approach could risk losing nursing skills, while others recognised that these are easily included in training programmes. For us in the UK, work on updating our midwifery education standards continues with opportunities to influence and comment.
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