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Education provision for the newborn physical examination as a post-registration module: National survey

02 February 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 2



This study aimed to assess the scope of newborn infant physical examination (NIPE) education in post-registration midwifery education, determine the structure and requirements for midwives undertaking NIPE training, and explore similarities and differences in pre- and post-registration preparation requirements.


In early 2015, all lead midwives for education in the UK were sent a link to an online questionnaire to assess the scope and practice of NIPE education across all midwifery curricula. This is the second of a two-part report, focusing on post-registration education; part A examined the education provision for the inclusion of NIPE in the midwifery curriculum.


NIPE education for midwives is popular and is well established in the post-registration curriculum. Variations exist in the length, content, assessment, levels of study and credits awarded for post-registration NIPE modules. This lack of standardisation raises questions about quality assurance.


The variation in module length has implications for commissioners and self-funding students, as longer NIPE modules are more costly. There is a strong argument for a standardised NIPE programme across the UK and for providers of maternity services to fully utilise midwives who have been trained in NIPE to avoid them becoming de-skilled.

In recent years there has been a gradual move towards qualified midwives undertaking the newborn infant physical examination (NIPE) as part of their extended role. The reasons behind this have been outlined in part A of this report (Yearley et al, 2017). The EMREN study (Townsend et al, 2004), undertaken more than a decade ago, highlighted the acceptability to service users and midwives, as well as the cost-effectiveness to Trusts, of midwives as NIPE practitioners. The study demonstrated how this extended role is in keeping with the midwifery philosophy of continuity of care and carer, which in turn increases maternal satisfaction. Townsend et al (2004) recommended that the NIPE should become part of midwives' standard practice.

Eleven years after the EMREN study's proposals, a survey of all maternity units in the UK found that these recommendations were not being met (Rogers et al, 2015) and that only 13% of UK midwives were qualified NIPE practitioners; the reasons for this were not clear. The investigators, therefore, felt it important to establish a national picture of the preparation of midwives for this role. To this end, the same authors undertook a further national survey between autumn 2014 and spring 2015 in which all Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved education intuitions (AEIs) were invited to report on their provision of education. Part A of this two-part report explored the current provision of and attitudes towards inclusion of NIPE in the pre-registration midwifery programme (Yearley et al, 2017). The current paper (part B) focuses on the provision of NIPE training for midwives as part of their post-registration professional development.

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