Is there a theory-practice gap in midwifery education? Perspectives from midwifery students
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Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Department of Reproductive Health, Sophiahemmet University, Stockholm, Sweden
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Anna Gustafsson   

Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Emilija Wilson   

Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A117
The goal of a professional education program for midwives is to prepare them with the knowledge, skills and competencies required for quality care provision. High quality midwifery education is essential for equipping midwives with competencies needed to provide safe and respectful sexual, reproductive, perinatal care, and maternal-infant-family care throughout the whole reproductive life1. Educating students in midwifery knowledge and competencies requires evidence base grounded in the physiological and hormone driven processes of childbearing2. In Sweden, midwifery education is 1.5 years on advanced level, following a 3-year higher education in nursing (undergraduate level). Today, midwifery students, clinical supervisors and teachers at the University, involved in midwifery education express that they perceive a gap between what is taught in theory and clinical practice. This actualizes the need to investigate the students learning environment. Thus, the aim is to study if and how students perceive the gap between theory and practice during clinical placements. This as part of a pedagogical project to enhance evidence-based care and education through the strengthening of student-centered learning with a stronger affiliation between research, education and clinical practice using the International Childbirth Initiative framework3 as a guiding tool. Focus group interviews with semi structured questions were conducted. A total of eight midwifery students participated. A qualitative content analysis was performed to describe their experiences. Two categories rose, “The midwife's area of expertise” and “Evidence-based care”. The midwifery students experienced a discrepancy between clinical practice and theory during their clinical placements. Further, they expressed that not all the competencies in the midwifery profession were met during their education. A closer cooperation between the university and the clinical placement sites needs to be established to reduce the discrepancy between the education's theory and practice as well as to extend the education to ensure that focus is given to all aspects of midwifery practice.
Gratitude to Ebba Gyberg and Lykke Iloson for conducting the focus group interviews.
All authors declare no conflicts of interest.
This work was supported by Karolinska Institutet Pedagogical project funds.
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