Resilience and retention in newly qualified midwives
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Royal College of Midwives, London, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-10-24
Corresponding author
Heather Bower   

Royal College of Midwives, London, United Kingdom
Eur J Midwifery 2023;7(Supplement 1):A195
Midwives in the UK are leaving the profession in greater numbers than in previous years1. Newly qualified midwives (NQMs) are one of the most vulnerable groups, yet they have successfully completed a midwifery education programme. The transition between student and NQM is a reality shock for many midwives, but it is important to retain NQMs in the profession to safeguard the midwifery workforce of the future. Building resilience during pre-registration midwifery education may be one way to address this.

Material and Methods:
A mixed-methods study asking ‘Why do newly qualified midwives stay?’ was undertaken in London. In phase 1, midwives of all levels of experience were surveyed and asked to complete two resilience scales. One was a previously validated scale2 (measuring personal resilience) and one scale was developed for this research (measuring professional resilience), based on a previous study about resilience in midwifery3. In phase 2, eleven NQMs were interviewed about their experiences of transitioning to NQM. The statements in the resilience scales that were most negatively scored were also explored.

The survey demonstrated that the professional resilience scale had a significant ability to predict those midwives who had thought of leaving their post/midwifery within the last six months. The interviews revealed that NQMs with a high level of personal and professional resilience were more likely to stay in midwifery. Those with high personal but low professional resilience were more likely to consider leaving their post or midwifery. Professional resilience was undermined by adverse workplace factors such as a bullying culture, poor staffing levels and lack of flexible working.

The new professional resilience scale (Bower Professional Resilience Scale) has the potential to predict NQMs who are considering leaving or who actually leave midwifery. If those NQMs who are more at risk of leaving can be identified, it would be possible to target specific interventions so that these NQMs are retained. In addition, building personal and professional resilience during pre-registration education programmes may equip students to make a more successful transition to newly qualified practice.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.
There is no funding for this research.
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