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An evaluation of the midwifery Pre-Qualifying Skills Passport in Wales

02 January 2019
14 min read
Volume 27 · Issue 1

Abstract

Background

Standards for pre-registration midwifery education are being reviewed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. In Wales a pre-qualifying skills passport (PQSP) has been in use for almost 5 years, and is designed to give midwives a chance to acquire key skills before they qualify.

Aim

This article presents the findings from a recent review of the Welsh PQSP.

Methods

Questionnaires were sent out to mentors, newly qualified midwives, midwifery lecturers and midwifery managers. Completed questionnaires were received from 167 users.

Findings

The PQSP helped mentors and students to know what is expected of newly qualified midwives, led to improved opportunities for vital skills acquisition and was easy to use in busy practice settings. It integrated knowledge with skills and it helped to learn skills step-by-step. There was also interest in adding further skills to the PQSP.

Conclusions

These findings are a positive foundation for future education standards and could be developed as a continuing professional development tool for a midwife's entire career.

Four universities in Wales offer validated midwifery pre-registration education programmes and they all include assessment and grading of practice in line with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)'s Standards for Pre-registration Midwifery Education (NMC, 2009). Midwifery students in Wales echoed the findings of previous studies, which had reported a lack of self-confidence at the point of registration (Donovan, 2008; Skirton et al, 2012). However, it was noted at all-Wales meetings between lead midwives for education and heads of midwifery that newly qualified midwives felt ready for practice, but they specifically lacked confidence in some technical midwifery skills. This was reported to be due to lack of exposure to these skills or unwillingness of mentors to support them to acquire them (Darra et al, 2016). Mirzakhani and Shorab (2015) found that clinical skills acquisition had a positive correlation with self-confidence, particularly in relation to ‘high-risk’ care, and the ability to practise skills in a supportive environment was found to contribute to the development of competence and knowledge (Bäck et al, 2017). While both these studies were conducted outside the UK, findings resonate with the feedback from student midwives in Wales. The newly qualified midwives also felt frustrated by the need to ‘re-demonstrate’ their ability to undertake certain skills after registration, which echoed previous research by Hughes and Fraser (2011:386), who suggested collaboration between Trusts and universities ‘to identify the sort of evidence that the employers require for some of the skills identified as necessary in their ‘preceptorship packages’. When exploring the transition experiences of newly qualified midwives, Avis et al (2013) recommended that midwifery managers should encourage senior students to be given more responsibilities during their final placements.

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