Involvement in midwifery education: Experiences from a service user and carer partnership
This article provides a critical reflection on the experiences of the Bournemouth University Public Involvement in Education and Research (PIER) partnership in developing approaches to involving service users and user groups within midwifery programmes of education; an NMC requirement since 2009. Specific models and activities are explored, including using social media to consult with expectant and new parents; organising direct conversations between women, their families, academics and students to explore experiences such as grief and loss and the use of support networks during pregnancy; and developing digital resources to create real, in depth and meaningful case studies.
Three key benefits to having meaningful and well supported involvement are identified: emotional impact and the opportunity to develop insight and resilience; knowledge impact and the opportunity to better understand the application of theory; and practical impact, which can lead to tangible changes to students' subsequent practice.
The Public Involvement in Education and Research (PIER) partnership was established in 2004 within a qualifying social work programme at Bournemouth University. In 2011, it was then extended across the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences. The partnership employs two service user and carer coordinators and has more than 90 members who are experts by experience and who contribute across the faculty to the design and delivery of lectures, assessment panels, role plays and simulation, admissions, curriculum design and research. Over a typical year, we coordinate more than 900 contact hours between students and service users in addition to the direct contact that students have in placement settings.
Involving women in midwifery education, however, has been a challenge. Time can be particularly precious to expectant and new mothers. Childcare responsibilities often preclude parents from attending university settings to contribute to the design and delivery of a programme or to participate in interview panels and, by their very nature, expectant and new mothers are a transient group in terms of their recent experience of using maternity services. There is little existing literature from the midwifery field that shares and evaluates the impact of different models of involvement on students' learning and subsequent practice, or the impact of ways of overcoming these challenges.
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