Successful application for Fusion Investment Funding for study leave

After a nervous wait, I was so excited when the anticipated email from the Fusion Investment Fund Committee popped into my in-box on the 7th August. With shaky fingers I clicked on the email, was this good news or not? Had I been successful in my bid for Fusion Investment funding? I was surprised and overjoyed to find the answer was yes!
I co-lead and coordinate the undergraduate student midwife caseloading initiative, a dynamic experiential practice-based learning strategy developed and pioneered by Bournemouth University (BU) in 1996. Caseloading practice requires students (supervised by a qualified midwife) to provide continuity of care for a small group of women throughout pregnancy, birth and the early days of parenting.
Given that it is now national policy that midwifery undergraduate students engage in caseloading it’s important to have an evidence-base on which to base best practice. Whilst there is robust evidence of women’s experiences of continuity from qualified midwives, there is a paucity of information regarding students. No formal research into women’s experiences of this approach to student involvement in care appears to have been undertaken in the UK.
My doctoral study aims to hear women’s personal stories to develop an understanding of how being part of a student midwife’s caseload may have impacted on their childbearing experience. Utilising qualitative methods, the study follows women’s experiences of continuity of care provision from a student midwife to identify themes of significance to the individual women in the study, and the women as a group. I am interested to hear women’s stories of how they develop and maintain relationships with the student, how they report the care provided in relation to their holistic needs and aspects of significance as identified by the women.
Six women have been recruited to the study. Participant stories are sought on three occasions; twice during pregnancy and once in the postnatal period. Data gathered is analysed using interpretive approaches within a narrative inquiry framework to identify themes of significance to the individual women within the study, and the women as a group.
It is imperative that midwifery education prepares students for employment within the ‘real world’ of midwifery practice. My study is embedded within the industry of midwifery; practice. Service user experience is central to quality practice provision and at the heart of student education. Through the fusion of research co-constructed with service users, practice and education, timely completion of my doctoral work has the potential to benefit students, women as service users, and professional practice.
My success in securing funding for study leave to write-up my doctoral thesis, will enable early dissemination of study findings to inform a currently limited evidence-base for best practice in student midwife caseloading. Dissemination of this knowledge will build on BUs footprint of scholarly work in this field. It will also enable me to be part of REF 2020 and help build critical mass in our next REF and reputation for midwifery/health at BU. Given the currently limited body of knowledge and growing interest surrounding student midwife caseloading practice, timely completion of my PhD also provides a platform for bidding the research councils. Little is known for example, of the emotional work of caseloading for students and midwifery mentors, or how best to prepare and support practitioners for this experience. Further work around service user perspectives is also required. These strands afford opportunity for co-working and c-constructing research projects with students, practitioners and service users. There is also the potential for collaborative work across HEIs in the UK, and countries offering similar educational schemes.
Thank you Fusion Investment Fund!