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Midwifery education reborn in WA

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The face of midwifery practice in WA has significantly changed with the launch of the state’s first Bachelor of Science (Midwifery) degree program offered by Curtin University of Technology.

The new degree, which gives students a direct entry route to studying midwifery, is a timely and welcomed response to the current increase in Western Australia’s birth rate and current shortage of practicing midwives.

Professor Phillip Della, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Curtin, noted that the number of babies born at King Edward Memorial Hospital last year was up by 1,000 and that this new program is very opportune.

“With the increased births, there is a recognised shortage of practicing midwives in the community and WA midwives are also part of an aging workforce,” said Professor Della.

“The Bachelor of Science (Midwifery) degree will encourage a younger cohort of students into the profession which in turn will provide a long term remedy to the current shortages.

“It will deliver quality graduates with the necessary skills to work in the community and provide acute care.”

The Bachelor of Science (Midwifery) degree is a three-year six semester course that provides clinical placements in a wide range of community and hospital settings. At the completion of the course students will have spent 50 per cent of their time in clinical practice.

The inaugural intake this year consists of 15 mature aged students and six school leavers from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Bachelor of Science (Midwifery) degree student Margaret Martin said she was realising a life-long ambition by embarking on this course.

“I feel privileged to be among the first students to undertake this course, which is leading the way into a new era in midwifery training and education,” Ms Martin said.

“My goal is to work on an indigenous maternity care plan in the community so that indigenous women can have their babies on their traditional land.”

Professor Della explained the long journey in getting this program approved.

“Curtin has long been a leading provider of midwifery education in WA, but needed legislative changes to the Nurses Act 1992 to enable midwives, who are not nurses, to register and practice as midwives,” Professor Della said.

“The University’s midwifery team played a very active role in lobbying for this change, and an integral part of the development of the degree at Curtin was the involvement of community and industry representatives, resulting in King Edward Memorial hospital and the Community Midwifery Program offering students clinical placements.”

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