Thanks to an Erasmus mobility award myself and a colleague were able to engage in a teaching exchange with the Karolinska Institute (KI) in Sweden. For the midwifery team, this is an annual reciprocal arrangement which fosters education/practice links and ensures the continuation of a programme of support for exchanges between Bournemouth University (BU) midwifery students and KI midwifery students. A very comprehensive itinerary allowed us to visit midwife led units, clinics, birthing units, and hospitals. We were enabled to spend time with student midwives in the classroom and with clinical teachers in practice.
This was my first visit, and a personal objective was to explore practice education. Student midwives in Sweden study midwifery for 18 months prior to qualification and this contrasts with the three year course mainly offered at home. Notably, the direct entry route to midwifery is not yet available in Sweden and even though this is an approach that KI is considering for the future, current applicants to the course have to be qualified nurses. KI student midwives move around various placements and student support mechanisms there were very similar to BU. Where things begin to differ is that there is no formally recognised mentor system. At the Sodra BB birth unit I learned from the Chef Barnmorska (Lead Midwife), that clinical teachers have often been qualified for a minimum of 5 years and though very experienced, they receive no formal preparation for their clinical teaching role. This perhaps reflects the lack of any formal ongoing post-registration development programme. At Danderyds birth centre we met a midwife who has recently taken on a role similar to that of Practice Educator. She has adopted a progressive programme of regular meetings between clinical teaching midwives and the Institute link allowing them an opportunity to discuss individual student’s needs and achievements. Attending one meeting, we were invited to contribute to the discussion and as a cohesive group we were able to discuss strategies and share ideas. Issues arising with learners seem to bear common threads internationally
Finally, if you are wondering what ‘Come to the Cabaret’ has to do with this blog…. Our visit happily coincided with end of course celebrations, a chance for the cohort to dress as characters from that very musical. I learned….. Swedish midwives know how to party!