Objective: to explore one aspect of the findings from a qualitative study exploring Australian Bachelor of Midwifery students' experiences of achieving competency for beginning practice. Design: a qualitative study using grounded theory, incorporating situational analysis. Data were collected by interviews, field observation and students' documents. Setting: one university in Victoria, Australia, which was a member of a consortium of universities that first implemented Bachelor of Midwifery curricula. Participants: 19 women, aged 20-40 years, completing the Bachelor of Midwifery course between the years 2005 and 2008. Findings: data analysis revealed an overarching social process of assimilation, and three related subprocesses namely realisation, adaptation and consolidation. This paper focuses on consolidation in terms of competency achievement in relation to set requirements. Key conclusions: while generally found competent for beginning practice, the Bachelor of Midwifery students in this study felt that their ability to achieve competency according to professional midwifery standards, was constrained by the restricted nature of midwifery practice and medical dominance in the hospitals where they were placed. Furthermore, they found it challenging to achieve the minimum midwifery experience requirements, as well as their own personal learning objectives, within the clinical practicum hours provided in the curriculum. Implications for practice: a review of the clinical hours provided by Bachelor of Midwifery curricula is required, with a view to ensure that clinical hours are consistent with recommended hours suggested by Australian Bachelor of Midwifery course accreditation standards. Universities implementing midwifery curricula in Australia need to be cognisant of the theory-practice gap and therefore the applicability of professional competency standards to the education of midwives. The concerns about the reliability of competency standards need to be addressed. Finally, further research is required to validate the current number of, minimum practice experience required for competency for beginning practice and registration as a midwife in Australia.
- Midwifery education
- Midwifery students