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A values-based curriculum to support aesthetic ‘ways of knowing’ in an undergraduate midwifery programme

02 December 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 12


In higher education, the term ‘values-based learning’ is used to emphasise aesthetic, values-based knowing; that is, the art, rather than the science, of caring. In midwifery, aesthetic learning is premised on the creation of meaningful relationships and the use of knowledge and skills that recognise individuality and support humanity. Therefore, it was deemed important to develop a midwifery curriculum that recognised the aesthetic values of care and compassion and those of midwifery educators.

The new midwifery curriculum was developed over a 2-year period of iterative discussion with the midwifery academic team and wide consultation with stakeholders. This article presents a pragmatic approach to designing and developing values-based learning opportunities in a midwifery undergraduate programme in one English university, and how a values-based midwifery curriculum model was conceptualised and made central to the learning and teaching strategy for a new curriculum.

The public enquiry into the failings of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust (Francis, 2013) found that poor leadership, and a focus on targets rather than people, led to health professionals failing to provide patients with safe, high quality and compassionate care. Since then, NHS England has attempted to improve the culture of care by promoting values of respect, dignity, quality of care, compassion, working together for patients, valuing every patient and improving lives (NHS, 2012).

In 2014, Higher Education England, who have the responsibility for supporting the recruitment of the future healthcare workforce, published a values-based strategy (Higher Education England, 2016). The aim of the strategy was to recruit pre-registration students with the values and behaviours that are consistent with those of the NHS. The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) identified professional values based on the delivery of ‘safe, effective, woman-centred, timely and equitable’ evidence- and community-based care (RCM, 2014). The increased awareness of the importance of values-based education has led to providers of midwifery to develop value-based curricula, although there is a paucity of literature that describes the development of a value-based midwifery programme.

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