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Including the newborn physical examination in the pre-registration midwifery curriculum: National survey

02 January 2017
Volume 25 · Issue 1



This study aimed to assess the scope of newborn infant physical examination (NIPE) education in programmes of pre-registration midwifery education.


An online questionnaire was sent to all lead midwives for education in the UK. Findings are reported in two parts: part A (the current paper) examines the education provision for the inclusion of NIPE in the midwifery curriculum. Part B (a subsequent paper) explores NIPE education as a post-registration module.


Of 58 education institutions, 40 (68.9%) completed the questionnaire. A quarter (25.0%) stated that NIPE training is included in their pre-registration midwifery programmes; 37.5% reported plans to implement it within the next 2–5 years and 30.0% had no plans to do so. Benefits for practice partners, commissioners, students and service users were identified. Challenges were noted, particularly in relation to resources and student support in practice.


Although barriers doubtless exist, the success of the few institutions that have incorporated NIPE into their curricula is evidence that this is not only possible, but has proven benefits.

Midwives are responsible for undertaking a preliminary examination of the newborn at birth to ascertain any obvious signs of abnormality and, thereafter, to undertake a daily examination in accordance with Article 40 of the EU Directive for midwives 2005/36/EC (Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), 2009). The more detailed newborn infant physical examination (NIPE), colloquially known as the ‘discharge examination’, has traditionally been performed only by junior paediatricians or GPs. It has long been argued that inclusion of the NIPE within their sphere of practice is a logical step for midwives, as experts in the care of normal childbirth (Rose, 1994; MacKeith, 1995; Michaelides, 1997), and is pivotal to delivering a personalised service, encompassing the known benefits of continuity of carer as outlined in the NHS National Maternity Review (2016).

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