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Exploring the experiences of student midwives completing the newborn infant physical examination

02 February 2020
Volume 28 · Issue 2
 The holistic examination of the baby is now frequently undertaken by specially trained midwives within clinical practice
The holistic examination of the baby is now frequently undertaken by specially trained midwives within clinical practice



The newborn and infant physical examination (NIPE) is a screening programme now undertaken by specially trained midwives. It is increasingly a feature within pre-registration midwifery educational programmes.


To explore the experiences of student midwives completing the theory and practice aspects of the NIPE within a pre-registration midwifery programme.


A qualitative design was utilised to analyse data collected by semi-structured interviews.


This study was conducted using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).


Three superordinate themes were generated: learning by doing, mentorship and transition to qualification. The findings demonstrate the benefits of student midwife exposure to practical aspects of NIPE.


Findings indicate that standardisation is required with NIPE education and clinical practice. Preceptorship programmes must effectively prepare newly qualified midwives to undertake the NIPE role. Higher educational institutes must provide greater support to the midwives providing mentorship of student midwife NIPE practitioners. Further research should examine the maintenance of the NIPE role following qualification as a midwife.

The newborn and infant physical examination (NIPE) is a screening programme delivered by Public Health England ([PHE], 2019), consisting of screening of the eyes, heart, hips, and testes (in male infants), as part of a holistic physical examination of the newborn and infant. The NIPE is carried out by specially trained medical practitioners, nurses, health visitors and midwives following completion of a university-accredited programme of study (PHE, 2019).

The physical examination of the newborn has traditionally been considered a part of routine care of the newborn following birth since the 1960s and is still today regarded as the gold standard of care for all babies (Hall, 1999; National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE], 2006; UK National Screening Committee, 2008; PHE, 2019). Current national standards require all infants within the UK to have a detailed physical examination within 72 hours of birth (Hall and Elliman, 2003; NICE, 2006; National Screening Committee, 2008; PHE, 2019), allowing for early identification of issues, prompt referral and judicious treatment of the neonate.

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