Summary Background Clinical placements form a large and integral part of midwifery education. While much has been written about nursing students' clinical placements, less is known about clinical experiences of undergraduate midwifery students. In nursing, belongingness has been demonstrated to be a key factor in clinical learning but little is known about this in midwifery education. Objectives This study sought to examine undergraduate midwifery students' sense of belongingness in their clinical practice. Design A quantitative design using an online questionnaire was employed. A tool adapted by Levett-Jones (2009a), and previously used with nursing students, was utilised to examine sense of belonging in undergraduate midwifery students. Participants Sixty undergraduate midwifery students from two campuses at one Australian university participated in the study. Students were drawn from a single Bachelor of Midwifery degree and a double Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery degree. Methods On completion of a scheduled lecture, students were invited by one of the researchers to participate in the study by completing the online questionnaire and the link provided. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Results Midwifery students generally reported similar perceptions of belongingness with previous studies on nursing students. However, a few differences were noted that require further exploration to fully understand. Conclusions Midwifery students experienced a sense of belonging in their clinical placements. The findings contribute to understandings of the experiences for midwifery students and provide a foundation on which to develop future clinical placement experiences.
Nursing education in Australia has been provided in the tertiary sector since the mid 1980s although the complete transfer of hospital based programs was not finalised until 1993.1,2 Pre-service nursing programs produce and graduate nurses who are generalist prepared and able to work in any practice context as novice registered nurses. Specialist education that traditionally incorporated midwifery was undertaken following registration and after a period of practice as a nurse.3 In recent years, views regarding midwifery as a specialism of nursing have been challenged by champions including the peak professional body representing midwifery, the Australian College of Midwives. Advocates maintained that women desire choices regarding birthing options and that midwives have, and continue to be dissatisfied with the current health care system that restricts their practice.4 By the beginning of the 21st Century, direct entry midwifery programs were part of the educational landscape