Compassion: an exploration of student midwives’ academic and clinical learning during their midwifery education

Pearson, Maria A. (2021) Compassion: an exploration of student midwives’ academic and clinical learning during their midwifery education. EdD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The appalling failings at the Mid-Staffordshire trust highlighted by Francis in 2013, prompted a renewed focus upon compassionate healthcare. Consequently, compassion and delivering compassionate care, although, not a new concept in midwifery, formal study in undergraduate curricula is relatively novel. Therefore, those responsible for undergraduate courses, have needed to consider how students may be educated about and for compassion. As midwifery education involves practice learning, consideration also needs to be given to this aspect. This presented an opportunity to learn from midwifery students who were about to, or already had been formally taught about compassion and who had spent varying lengths of time in their midwifery practice placements.

A mixed methods approach was utilised and included: data collection via a free writing exercise prior to new students’ studying about compassion. Students in all years of the course were surveyed via a self-completion questionnaire, including questions eliciting both qualitative and quantitative data. Finally, focus groups comprising three semi-structured interviews were facilitated separately and with a sample of volunteer students from all years of the midwifery course. Thematic analysis was used to interpret the qualitative findings. Wenger’s (1998) Communities of Practice, Social Learning Theory offered a useful lens to make sense of and analyse the data’s findings. The quantitative data show to what extent the students reported that being taught about compassion had increased their understanding. Furthermore, it shows how much or how little being taught about compassion had prepared the students for clinical practice and subsequently to what degree clinical practice had informed their learning about and for compassion.

The results show that the majority of students reported formal study about and for compassion had increased their understanding. The midwifery practice placements also supported students’ learning about and for compassion. Therefore, the formal teaching about compassion during undergraduate midwifery education is recommended. Three distinct yet interrelated phases emerged and the findings show that students’ brought their pre-professional life experiences to the classroom and clinical practice; they continued to learn both formally and informally, depending upon the situations they found themselves in. These findings have significant implications for students, midwifery educators, clinical midwives supporting student learning and Heads of midwifery who have an overall responsibility for students’ practice learning in the maternity services.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (EdD)
Supervisors: Hall, Christine
Youens, Bernadette
Elliott, Jenny
Keywords: Compassion; Midwifery, Study and teaching (Higher); Midwives, Education (Higher) Midwife and patient
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 67100
Depositing User: Pearson, Maria
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2021 04:40
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2021 04:40

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