Midwifery in the 21st century: are students prepared for the challenge?

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The role of the midwife is emotionally and physically challenging: birth rates are increasing, there are staff shortages and increasingly more complex cases for which to coordinate care (Royal College of Midwives (RCM), 2015). There are also professional and policy requirements to be met, all in the context of practising in line with our core value of being ‘with woman’ and providing her with individualised, highquality, evidence-based care. Such demands drive some midwives to leave the profession, citing stress, burnout, compassion fatigue and emotional exhaustion as causes (Curtis et al, 2006). Others develop strategies to cope with the complex and varied stressors of the role; they demonstrate resilience. The future of maternity services in the UK is dependent on the retention of resilient midwives, so it is important that the characteristics are explored to ascertain whether resilience is a personal trait or one that can be learned. In 2013, the RCM funded the first research project in the UK to investigate resilience in midwifery (Hunter and Warren, 2013). This article will provide an overview of the cinical, professional and political stressors qualified midwives have to deal with on a daily basis in order to understand the environment student midwives are exposed to when working under the tutelage of their midwife mentor. It will consider the relevance of Hunter and Warren’s (2013) findings in the context of midwifery pre-registration education, as the future of midwifery practice in the UK depends on the recruitment, retention and successful qualification of student midwives who are adequately prepared to cope with the complex emotional and physical demands of the profession.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-68
Number of pages3
JournalBritish Journal of Midwifery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2016


  • Midwifery
  • Midwife
  • Students
  • Preparation
  • Challenge


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