Pre-registration midwifery education: adapting infant feeding observed simulated clinical examinations
Digitally developed and virtually provided midwifery education has gathered momentum as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Preparing students for professional practice in a virtual environment creates challenges and creative opportunities for midwifery educators. Course designs and structures have been adapted to enable students to gain knowledge and experience of practicing in a virtual environment and approaches to assessment have also required adaptation. This article outlines how observed simulated clinical examinations were modified in conjunction with stakeholders from clinical practice and the breastfeeding community to ensure that they aligned with the local reality of virtual infant feeding support. Collaboration was required to ensure that the reality of student's experiences was captured in the assessment process. Challenges encountered included being sensitive to the fluidity of the clinical setting and ensuring that scenarios were relevant and created a sufficient challenge for students. Mitigating against students' concerns regarding virtual simulated clinical assessment should be incorporated into future adaptations of educational interventions and assessments.
Digital technology is developing in maternity services across the UK. For example, digital care planning and the use of digitally developed maternity records are a standard part of midwifery practice, and each country of the UK has developed and is continuing to progess digital maternity care systems (The Perinatal Institute, 2020; Scottish Government, 2021; Health and Social Care Northern Ireland, 2022). There are also intended future developments to integrate care provision and access by women to enhance their maternity care experience (NHS Digital, 2020). There are an increasing number of mobile applications that support professional practice (Arbour and Stec, 2018). In relation to infant feeding, Arbour et al (2015) described a virtual demonstration of breastfeeding assessment as an aspect of improving the quality of online midwifery courses in the US.
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