An exploration of the midwifery continuity of care program at one Australian University as a symbiotic clinical education model.
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Objective This discussion paper analyses a midwifery Continuity of Care program at an Australian University with the symbiotic clinical education model, to identify strengths and weakness, and identify ways in which this new pedagogical approach can be improved. Background In 2002 a major change in Australian midwifery curricula was the introduction of a pedagogical innovation known as the Continuity of Care experience. This innovation contributes a significant portion of clinical experience for midwifery students. It is intended as a way to give midwifery students the opportunity to provide continuity of care in partnership with women, through their pregnancy and childbirth, thus imitating a model of continuity of care and continuity of carer. Methods A qualitative study was conducted in 2008/9 as part of an Australian Learning and Teaching Council Associate Fellowship. Evidence and findings from this project (reported elsewhere) are used in this paper to illustrate the evaluation of midwifery Continuity of Care experience program at an Australian university with the symbiotic clinical education model. Findings Strengths of the current Continuity of Care experience are the strong focus on relationships between midwifery students and women, and early clinical exposure to professional practice. Improved facilitation through the development of stronger relationships with clinicians will improve learning, and result in improved access to authentic supported learning and increased provision of formative feedback. This paper presents a timely review of the Continuity of Care experience for midwifery student learning and highlights the potential of applying the symbiotic clinical education model to enhance learning. Conclusion Applying the symbiotic clinical education framework to evidence gathered about the Continuity of Care experience in Australian midwifery education highlights strengths and weaknesses which may be used to guide curricula and pedagogical improvements.
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