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What does studying research methods have to do with practice? Views of student midwives and nurses

02 January 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 1


At the point of registration, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC, 2015) requires nurses and midwives to prioritise people, practise effectively, preserve safety and promote professionalism and trust. Registrants must ‘always practise in line with the best available evidence’ (NMC, 2015: 7), both in terms of their skills and competencies and the evidence on which their practice is based. A key aspect of a university lecturer's role in teaching on pre-registration nursing and midwifery programmes is to ensure students appreciate the link between research and practice. Student midwives and nurses must develop an understanding that gold-standard care is based on best evidence and realise that by studying research methods during their programme of study they are actually developing higher-order skills of critical thinking and decision making. Such skills are highly transferable for safe and effective clinical practice, commensurate with graduate-level programmes of study.

The Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 created the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), whose primary function is to establish standards of education, training, conduct and performance for nurses and midwives and to ensure the maintenance of those standards to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the public. There are specific standards for pre-registration student midwives (NMC, 2009) and student nurses (NMC, 2010) to ensure competency at the point of registration.

The NMC requires student midwives to achieve competence in ‘effective midwifery prac tice; professional and ethical practice; developing the individual midwife and others and achieving quality care through evaluation and research’ (NMC, 2009: 23). In relation to evaluation and research, the student is expected to keep up to date with evidence and, more importantly, should have the skills to critically evaluate research to appropriately apply findings to his or her practice. There is also an expectation to share best practice and disseminate evidence to others for the benefit of women and their babies.

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