Learning experiences of final-year student midwives in labor wards: A qualitative exploratory study
Joeri Vermeulen 1  
Wim Peersman 2, 3
Leonardo Gucciardo 4, 5
Monika Laubach 4, 5
Eva Swinnen 6
Katrien Beeckman 1, 7, 8, 9
Ronald Buyl 10
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Department Health Care, Knowledge Centre Brussels Integrated Care, Erasmus University College Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Social and Community Work, Odisee University College, Brussels, Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium
Department of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine, University Hospital Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Faculty of Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Rehabilitation Research, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Department Medical Sociology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium
Nursing and Midwifery Research Unit, University Hospital Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Centre for Research and Innovation in Care (CRIC), Midwifery Research Education and Policymaking (MIDREP), University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Department of Public Health, Biostatistics and Medical Informatics Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium
Joeri Vermeulen   

Erasmus University College Brussels, Knowledge Centre Brussels Integrated Care, Laarbeeklaan 121, 1090 Brussels, Belgium
Publication date: 2019-08-29
Submission date: 2019-06-05
Final revision date: 2019-08-17
Acceptance date: 2019-08-17
Eur J Midwifery 2019;3(August):15
Clinical placements are an integral part of midwifery education and are crucial for achieving professional competencies. Although students’ experiences on placements have been shown to play a meaningful role in their learning, they have received scant attention in the literature. The aim of this paper is to describe the learning experiences of final-year student midwives in labor wards within the Brussels metropolitan region, Belgium.

A qualitative exploratory study was conducted using two focus groups (N=20). Data analysis included: transcription of audio recordings, thematic content analysis with coding into recurrent and common themes, and broader categories. Discussions among researchers were incorporated in all phases of the analysis for integrity and data fit.

Data analysis identified the following categories as determining student learning experiences in labor wards: 1) managing opportunities, 2) being supported, and 3) dealing with the environment. Overall, respondents were positive and enthusiastic about their learning experiences, although some felt tense and unprepared. Students expressed concerns about differences in learning opportunities between placements and found it challenging to achieve all competencies. Student learning experiences were enhanced when they had placements for longer periods with the same supportive mentors.

Factors related to students’ functioning, the healthcare professional, midwifery education and hospital environment affected their learning in labor wards. The combination of a more persevered preparation of students and mentors, together with a student-centered organization of placements, is crucial to create a positive learning experience for midwifery students in labor wards.

The authors thank all student midwives who participated in this study and wish to express their appreciation to the mentoring and supervising midwives and to the entire midwifery education team for their continued support and valued guidance of the students and researchers. We also thank the reviewers for their valuable suggestions to improve the manuscript.
The authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none was reported.
There was no source of funding for this research.
Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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