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An exploration of the development of resilience in student midwives

02 April 2022
13 min read
Volume 30 · Issue 4



Resilience has been considered a key personal characteristic for a healthcare professional to be able to cope with the demands of their profession. There is a paucity of research that has considered resilience in midwifery and none has used a resilience scale over the length of the midwifery programme.


A resilience scale was used with one cohort of student midwives on five occasions throughout their midwifery programme.


The mean across all of the five scale scores for the 15 participants was 122 (range of mean scores:92–135). The majority of participants (n=13) had average, moderate or moderately high resilience and all student midwives except one increased their resilience between the first and fifth completion of the scale.


The true resilience scale is a useful tool to use in midwifery undergraduate programmes to determine the development of resilience in student midwives. Importantly, the scale could be used at an early opportunity to identify any support needs.

Retention on midwifery undergraduate programmes could be termed the ‘wicked problem’, described originally by Rittel and Webber (1973), as there is no simple solution and the issue is so complex that it may never be completely addressed. The RePair (Reducing Pre-registration Attrition and Improving Retention) project reported that between the academic years of 2009/2010 and 2014/2015, the average attrition rate for midwifery students was 13.6%, with the highest rate being 15.9% and the lowest being 11.5% during that period (Lovegrove, 2018). Children's nursing was the only field that presented a lower attrition rate, with 13.0% being the average rate, 15.5% the highest and 9.9% the lowest.

It is very costly to lose a student midwife, not only to the Higher Education Institution but also to the NHS; however, there is little research into the multifactorial reasons why students leave the programme (Green and Baird, 2009) and how institutions try to manage the whole ‘basket of risk factors in a holistic way to achieve lower attrition rates’ (Department of Health, 2006). Lovegrove (2018) reported that financial worries were the key concern for healthcare students, as without long holidays of traditional university courses, there was limited opportunity to earn enough to support themselves. Additionally, the relentless workload and level of responsibility was also of great concern to healthcare students and a consideration in whether they can remain and complete their programme.

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