Resources Events > NZCOM Journal > Issue 53 > Online postgraduate midwifery education increases knowledge integration into practice: Insights from a survey of Otago Polytechnic’s postgraduate midwifery students

Online postgraduate midwifery education increases knowledge integration into practice: Insights from a survey of Otago Polytechnic’s postgraduate midwifery students


ABSTRACT

Background: The Midwifery Council of New Zealand requires that registered midwives are engaged in education as one aspect of demonstrating ongoing competence. Barriers to engagement include geographical isolation, inability of workplaces to release midwives, potential for the post-registration student to be unavailable to her Lead Maternity Care clients, and financial constraints associated with travel to where the study is offered. In New Zealand, the Otago Polytechnic postgraduate midwifery programme offers a range of clinically focussed and theoretical papers that are delivered at distance in a blended model, combining online learning with synchronous and asynchronous online discussion opportunities. This model enables midwives to up-skill and build “communities of practice” regardless of their physical location, with no resultant loss of availability to their community or workplace.

Aim: This research aimed to explore midwives’ perceptions of how their engagement in online postgraduate midwifery education had influenced their practice, potentially benefiting childbearing women in their care.

Method: Following ethical approval, an online survey was sent to all midwives who were enrolled in postgraduate midwifery courses at Otago Polytechnic in the period 2012 to 2013. Data were collected in April 2014, from a survey that used a combination of Likert scales, yes/no responses, and provision for qualitative comments. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.

Results: Fifty-five out of 117 (47%) surveys were returned. Midwife respondents practised across a range of settings from urban to remote rural locations, and midwifery care was provided at home and at primary, secondary and tertiary birth facilities. Respondents felt that participation in online postgraduate midwifery education had improved their knowledge base and their ability to practise in an evidence-informed way, and they felt connected to a community of practice in a virtual sense, gaining the benefits of support and encouragement from fellow learners and lecturers. They believed that the care they provided to women was enhanced because they had practice currency and could apply their knowledge to clinical situations with increased confidence.

Conclusion: For these midwives, engagement in online postgraduate midwifery education informed their midwifery practice, and therefore the care that women received. Online postgraduate midwifery education enabled these midwives through its accessibility.

Keywords: midwifery, postgraduate, online education, e-learning, continuing education, midwifery care

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