Enhancing inter-professional education through low-fidelity simulation
An interprofessional education initiative was developed and piloted in 2014 at Queen's University Belfast, within the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the School of Medicine.
The aim of the collaboration was to introduce concepts of normal labour and birth to fourth-year medical students, led by final-year midwifery students.
A variety of birthing resources were available to the midwifery students to promote interactivity with the medical students, including birthing balls and birth manikins. Artistic licence in relation to planning the activities was encouraged. Significant emphasis was placed on the importance of relationship-building with women in labour, and the concept of being ‘with woman’ was core to all elements of teaching. Midwifery students undertook acting roles such as the labouring woman, partner or midwife role and acted out mini scenarios such as contacting for advice about early labour, positions for labour or positions for birth. Medical students were encouraged to participate in the role play, and the interactive workshop culminated with a hands-on simulation of childbirth.
Evaluation of the workshops has been extremely positive. The midwifery students reported a perceived benefit of teamwork in preparing for the workshop and also a perceived increased level of confidence.
Both schools have recognised the benefits of this form of inter-professional education and have subsequently made a commitment to embed it within their respective curricula.
The increased recognition of midwives as lead professionals in low-risk pregnancy and birth, and the proliferation of midwifery-led units within the NHS, have raised the profile of midwifery in the health-care setting in recent years (Chief Nursing Officers of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, 2010; Sandall et al, 2016). However, Wilkins (2010) has argued that while midwives have rejected the medicalisation of childbirth, they have not truly recognised their unique professional role and moulded new ways of inter-professional working. If midwives do not nurture and embrace inter-professionalism, there is a risk of increased tension, conflict and potential indecision between colleagues arising from changes to the traditional medical dominance that has previously existed in maternity care (Reiger and Lane, 2009). Recent findings from the Kirkup report unearthed the dangers of poor relationships between midwives and doctors where a ‘them and us’ culture of behaviour existed, leading to catastrophic breakdowns in communication in the maternity care setting (Kirkup, 2015: 13). Responsibilities for partnership working are reiterated in the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2015) Code, to ensure effective care-giving and emphasising the need to respect colleagues' roles and expertise.
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