Exploring the emotions of midwifery students in Greece and the U.K using art as a medium
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Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-10-24
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Kim Dale-Porter   

Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, United Kingdom
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A197
In 2016 the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) stated that in the U.K and internationally, 5-10% of newly qualified midwives (NQM) left the profession within six months of qualifying. The retention and confidence of midwives, particularly newly qualified midwives (NQM), is essential to the workforce in maternity care. Drawing provides the freedom to be expressive in ways that verbalising may inhibit, giving a raw expression that is not tainted by any common narrative. Using art as a medium is a relatively untapped resource when exploring and understanding some of the challenges and emotion’s students and NQM face.

Material and Methods:
Art has become a lens by which new phenomena can be observed opposed to the traditional collection of data collected via questionnaires, observational and narrative approaches (Pentassuglia 2017). It is aimed at another perspective and offers questions acting as the illuminator of an aspect that might have otherwise been left unseen (Barone & Elliot 2012). An International National Study involving 30 midwifery students from the U.K and 31 Greek midwifery students were asked to ‘draw’ their thoughts and emotions regarding completion of their course and becoming registered midwives. Two senior midwifery educators, one from Greece and one from the U.K., were then asked to interpret the drawings, without knowing whether the students were U.K. or Greek based and give their perspective of the drawings.

Using art as an expression helped to identify some of the individual thoughts and feelings of midwifery students who were nearing qualification. The results from the lecturer's interpretation of the drawings showed that overall, they agreed on the vast majority of the drawings and their meanings. However, surprisingly, the response of the lecturers to the stress of the students interpreted through the drawings was very different. For example, one lecturer discussed the lack of resilience of the students and how they were no longer prepared to tolerate poor working conditions, while the other talked about compassion fatigue and the transfer of the mother's stress onto the student. Neither lecturer could tell the origin of the drawings, Greek or English.

The work enables a new dialogue by bringing a fresh perspective and a collective and innovative approach to how students are prepared for practice. While work has already begun demonstrating the importance of providing a supportive environment for not only students and NQM's but also the midwifery workforce in general. Art is another tool to support the journey of novice-to-expert.