Education for leadership in midwifery; The start of the Dutch National Master of Science Midwifery
More details
Hide details
Midwifery Science, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences Maastricht, the Netherlands
Midwifery Science, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Midwifery Science, University of Applied Sciences Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Carola JM Groenen   

Inholland University of Applied Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Rotterdam and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A172
Midwives in the Netherlands face various impactful challenges; there is an increase of pregnant women with multiple health and social problems, a decrease in the number of practicing care providers and hospitals are being closed and centralized, all resulting in less available capacity. In addition, a switch from national to regional guidelines and protocols demands new competences from midwives to stay in the loop as strong collaboration partners in a changing care landscape. Midwifery leadership is necessary to develop new knowledge and to apply this in an evidence-based way in the increasing complexity of maternity care without losing the focus on promoting the physiology of childbirth. At the same time, Midwifery Science is developing in the Netherlands; Professors of Midwifery are positioned at the various universities, research teams are connected to these chairs and a growing number of midwives are doing a PhD. However, to become a midwife in the Netherlands requires a direct entry Bachelor of Science education. Between this BSc and a PhD exists a gab because there is no regular Master of Science in Midwifery available. This is a problem because midwives in the Netherlands are not able to continue their professional development by a Master of Science to a PhD position as recommended in the Bologna agreements. Apart from a PhDs, midwives with a Master education are also necessary to enhance leadership in the regional multidisciplinary context. Participation in these contexts requires knowledge and skills for policymaking and innovation from more and more midwives.

Material and Methods:
Over the past decade, the various Universities of Applied Sciences in Midwifery have tried to establish a Master of Science in Midwifery in the Netherlands through different pathways. None of the pilots have resulted in a sustainable national Master of Midwifery program. Time for a new approach. All Dutch Universities of Applied Sciences in Midwifery and the national Royal Dutch Midwifery organization (KNOV) have joined hands. They started the trajectory, according to the guidelines of the Dutch Ministry of Education, to develop a new regular national Master of Science Midwifery. For this procedure, it was necessary to develop a vision document, a profile with end competences acknowledged by different stakeholders (especially practicing midwives but also other professionals in maternity care), a macro-efficiency analysis (for government financing of the master), a curriculum program and the accreditation by the Ministry of Education. A project team with participants from all organizations involved worked with united force to develop all necessary documents and the full program.

Midwives and stakeholders in maternity care have nationally recognized the need for Master-educated midwives, additional to Bachelor-educated midwives. The Master curriculum is based on the framework as reported in the Lancet Midwifery series (2014). In a two years part-time program of 60 ECTS, midwives will be educated in advanced midwifery, science, leadership, quality of care and policy-making, ending with a master thesis. This will contribute to midwives, who are equipped to take leadership roles in science, management, and innovations in maternity care. To organize this new Master of Science Midwifery, all three Universities of Applied Sciences in Midwifery started a unique joint degree collaboration. Unique in working so closely together and unique for national Dutch education, where joined programs are still scares. The Master program will be offered ‘blended’ with weekly online sessions, self-study and periodic physical meetings, rotating between the different locations of the Universities of Applied Sciences in Midwifery, making it feasible for midwives to combine work and education. Science education and the Master thesis are connected with the Midwifery research groups and of course, the professors of Midwifery are expert teachers in this Master.

The necessity of an education continuum and the raising complexity in maternity care led to the start of the national joint degree Master of Science Midwifery in September 2023. This government financed Master offers those midwives who want to take on extra roles in maternity care or those who plan to start a PhD, the opportunity to develop the necessary competencies. We will start with 30 students in the first year and will grow over the following years. Already, many more registrations are lining up for this Master. The new team of lectures originating from the different research groups and Universities of Applied Sciences in Midwifery are enthusiastic and ready to go. In our presentation, we will disclose further details of the process and the Master program. We experience a lot of interest for this Master. Interest for the joint degree organization from the whole education field and interest for the midwifery master skills in health care. Therefore, you will definitely hear more from this Dutch Master of Science Midwifery.

Journals System - logo
Scroll to top