Australia makes history: the first three-year bachelor of midwifery course of studies: Pauline Glover, Associate Professor of Midwifery & Nursing, Flinders University, Adelaide, describes a pioneering addition to midwifery education in Australia.

Author:Glover, Pauline

A three-year Bachelor of Midwifery was commenced in Australia in 2002 when five Universities in two Australian States (South Australia and Victoria) undertook the introduction of this course of studies. In 2004, the first students have graduated and they are all either employed, or undertaking further studies (Bachelor of Midwifery Honours) or having a baby themselves!

Background to the change

The story began long before this. In 1999 an Australian taskforce was established to investigate the development of a national framework for "direct entry' midwifery in Australia, i.e. an entry, route for those who are not already nurses.

This taskforce consisted of representatives of all states and territories in Australia, who, along with expert advisers, came together and had much discussion about the development of the Bachelor of Midwifery to bring this country in line with the many others that offer such an entry to the profession. The taskforce then came under the auspices of the Australian College of Midwives (ACMI), and has subsequently become the Australian National Education Standards Taskforce (ANEST).

Accreditation, consultation and collaboration

Members of the ANEST group focused on writing the Standards for Accreditation of three-year Bachelor of Midwifery programmes, while those in midwifery faculties of the universities began the very important task of consultation and collaboration with key stakeholders: the community, women and the profession itself. In the two states that were committed to this pathway of education for midwives, the universities worked together to ensure that there was some standardisation of what was being developed. In the state of Victoria, the three universities concerned formed a consortium called Werna Nalo. In South Australia the two universities established a joint course advisory committee that began meeting in 2000. These groups of key stakeholders were crucial to the development of the course as they were able to advise on the content of the curriculum and the availability of clinical places for students.

The ideas for the content and style of the course, and an outline of what was intended, were presented to meetings of directors of nursing who led teams working in a variety of settings, including rural, remote and metropolitan areas. Presentations were also given at major hospitals to mixed audiences of staff from different health professions.

The course development for these proposed programs...

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