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More midwives are treading their own path in Australia’s changing midwifery landscape. A unique Australian College of Midwives’ program is helping them shape their careers, writes Karen Keast.

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It’s like a career coach for midwives.

Since its inception six years ago, 600 midwives have opted to complete the Australian College of Midwives’ Midwifery Practice Review (MPR).

ACM education officer Ruth King says the MPR program is a unique initiative enabling midwives to take stock of their careers.


“There’s lots of peer review programs around Australia and internationally but there aren’t any midwifery specific peer review programs in Australia - this is the only one,” she says.

“The MPR has been designed for all midwives so it’s a way for midwives practising in any area of midwifery to reflect on their practice.”

The three-step MPR program covers a self-assessment, self-reflection synopsis, a face-to-face review discussion with a midwife and consumer reviewer, and guidance and support to develop a professional development plan.

“It’s a way of a midwife reflecting ‘this is where I am in life, this is what I’ve undertaken and I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and now this is the direction I want to take’,” she says.

“The review is undertaken by a midwife and a consumer reviewer and they have been trained to ask specific questions to just drill down into the achievements of the midwife.

“It helps the midwife to reflect and see how well they’ve done, areas where perhaps they could go and do some more professional development, highlighting areas that are their strengths and areas where it would be amazing if they could go and develop further.”

The Department of Health in Queensland has supported the majority of its midwifery workforce to complete the program.

Ms King, a continuity of care midwife of six years who previously worked at Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital, hopes more health departments will follow suit.

“We think that MPR is something that is beneficial for all midwives and would recommend that it be supported by all health departments as a key cornerstone of the midwifery practice,” she says.

MPR is just one of the college’s suite of continuing professional development (CPD) pathways for midwives, built on best practice and evidence-based.

The college also holds regular webinars on a range of topics and has an e-learning site, Midwives Learn, which offers courses on topics such as neonatal resuscitation, epidural and spinal analgesia, continence promotion, telehealth, and alcohol and pregnancy.

The college’s MidPLUS program, which was first introduced about eight years ago, is about to get a new lease on life in line with a revamped website.

MidPLUS supports midwives to plan, complete and record their CPD activities.

Midwives are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPD each year to maintain their registration.

However, MidPLUS requires midwives to go over and above this level to achieve a minimum of 30 hours of CPD, while eligible midwives must complete 40 hours of CPD.

Ms King says about half of the college’s 5000-strong membership taps into the benefits of MidPLUS - which provides a valuable record of CPD achievements.

“The program allows midwives to enter their CPD details to track the activities that they’ve done throughout the year,” she says.

“It’s stored online for them so they can go away and at the end of the year they can print out a summary if they want to, so it’s like a synopsis of all of the things they have done, or they can just get their certificate that says they’ve achieved 30 hours of CPD.”

Ms King says it also enables midwives to go further than simply recording the details of their CPD.

They also have the opportunity to reflect on how the CPD will improve their practice.

“Reflective practice is something that’s really important for all midwives,” she says.

“The regulatory bodies want midwives to do more than just attend a CPD event, they actually want them to reflect on it and say - ‘I attended this event, this is what I learnt from it and this is how it’s going to influence my practice’.”

But it’s the college’s MPR, which was launched about six years ago, that has become increasingly popular in recent years.

The program, which has received Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia accreditation, is a pathway for midwives pursuing eligibility but it’s designed to benefit any midwife.

“The thing is that eligibility isn’t for all midwives,” Ms King says.

“At the moment, eligibility is linked for midwives working across the full continuum of midwifery so that means demonstrating current competence in antenatal, labour and birth, and postnatal care.

“We are seeing a larger number of midwives now who are doing MPR purely for their own professional development and reflection,” Ms King adds.

“They’ve seen such positive results from their colleagues, who have been so optimistic about the outcomes that they’ve achieved and what they’ve gained from it.”


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords