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An exploration of midwives' experiences of the transition to practice in the Republic of Ireland

02 March 2022
Volume 30 · Issue 3
 Studies reviewed suggested that, as time in labour increases, rates of spontaneous vaginal delivery also increase
Studies reviewed suggested that, as time in labour increases, rates of spontaneous vaginal delivery also increase



Many studies worldwide describe midwives' experiences during their transition from student midwife to qualified midwife. However, research on midwives' experience of transition to practice in the Republic of Ireland has not been published since 2008. This study aimed to explore midwives' experiences of their transition to practice in the Republic of Ireland.


A qualitative descriptive study using semi-structured interviews was conducted with seven midwives, who commenced their post-registration clinical practice between December 2018 and September 2019.


Midwives described transition to practice as a time when they felt challenged because of increased responsibility and accountability. It was a period of growth because of ‘learning by doing’, where a supportive working environment was paramount.


Newly qualified midwives have considerable need for support yet it appears they do not always receive this support.

Midwifery recruitment and retention in Ireland is a major challenge (Moore, 2020) as it is globally (World Health Organization, 2020). Graduating from being a student to a registered midwife is a particularly difficult time for some, who may experience stress, strain, low self-confidence and poor job satisfaction (Shatto and Lutz, 2017; Hunter et al, 2019), leading to a high turnover of staff (Bakon et al, 2018). It is reported that most newly qualified midwives experience anxiety because of increased responsibility, professional accountability and clinical decision-making (Fenwick et al, 2012; Clements et al, 2013; Kitson Reynolds et al, 2014). Staff shortages and busy workloads result in an emphasis on task completion, rather than focusing on women-centred care, which increases this anxiety (Fenwick et al, 2012; Hobbs, 2012; Kitson Reynolds et al, 2014).

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