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Fairy tale midwifery ten years on: facilitating the transition to newly qualified midwife

02 December 2019
14 min read
 Mentors give newly qualified midwives the support and encouragement they need to perform with confidence
Volume 27 · Issue 12


The first article in this series, published in the British Journal of Midwifery, volume 27, number 10, identified that newly qualified midwives continue to experience reality shock on initiation of first post, despite preceptorship programmes that aim to ease transition from student to qualified practitioner. Mentors are important in facilitating student decision-making, criticality and reflective practice, and share such roles as teaching, support and role modelling with preceptors. Although transition begins at the inception of midwifery training, there is a paucity of research exploring the role of mentors in preparing students for autonomous practice. The recent shift to replace mentors with practice supervisors and assessors provides an opportunity to consider strategies to better prepare student midwives for autonomous practice and mitigate against fairy tale midwifery.

Seminal work (Kramer, 1974) indicated that newly qualified practitioners experience a reality shock on initiation of first post, which is supported by subsequent literature (Maben and Macleod-Clark, 1996; Godinez et al, 1999; Gerrish, 2000; Montgomery et al, 2004; van der Putten, 2008; Kitson-Reynolds 2010; Kitson-Reynolds et al, 2014). Newly qualified midwives (NQM) are expected to be competent novice practitioners who, over the course of a defined preceptorship period, acquire more specialised clinical skills and confidence in practice (Nursing and Midwifery Council [NMC] 2009; Department of Health [DH], 2010). This period of preceptorship is intended to ease the transition from student to midwife, although programmes remain unstandardised and evidence suggests that the level of supernumerary status and exposure to clinical rotations vary between NHS Trusts (Clements et al, 2012; Avis et al, 2013; Mason and Davies, 2013; Bannister, 2014; Foster and Ashwin, 2014; Wain, 2017). Original phenomenological research, upon which this series is based (Kitson-Reynolds, 2010; Kitson-Reynolds et al, 2014), suggested incongruence between new registrants' expectations of practice (their self-imposed ‘fairy tale’ that was perpetuated by peers, lecturers and midwives alike) and the reality of midwifery

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