Research in practice: a core skill
Following on from last issue’s Birthwrite article, Ruth Sanders and Kelda Folliard discuss teaching research skills to midwifery students through practical techniques
Our previous Birthwrite article discussed the conceptual leap for student midwives when embedding evidence-
based practice and research in midwifery. The article noted that the evidence-based practice and research skills that are core to midwifery curricula do not always remain with student midwives beyond qualification (Folliard and Sanders, 2022). We suggested this was because these skills are somewhat opaque, less tangible than hands on midwifery skills (Lee and Peacock, 2020), and not reliably modelled by the midwives with whom students and newly qualified midwives learn. So, how do we, as midwifery educators, ensure parity of esteem between these different types of midwifery skills?
With the daily challenges of busy workloads leaving little time for experienced midwives to actively engage with research (Toolhill et al, 2015), clinical and academic educators may find it difficult to effectively facilitate prioritising and mastering evidence-based practice and research skills. Supervising midwives need to assess students’ ability to translate theory into practice.This paper outlines some approaches that have been taken and focuses on whether there is an opportunity for collegiate learning, which capitalises on the privileged position of student midwives, who have dedicated time to specifically focus on these skills.The aim of this is to ensure
Ruth Sanders Midwifery lecturer, University of East Anglia Kelda Folliard Midwifery lecturer, University of East Anglia
A d o b e / i t c h a z n o n g
Research in practice is an important component of midwifery education that helps to ensure midwifery practice remains evidence-based and safe that evidence-based practice and research skills are maintained beyond the point of registration and nurture a research‑positive maternity culture with safe practice at its core.
Simulation approach for research in the clinical environment Learning through simulation is a widely used and effective pedagogy for clinical skills, encouraging students to think flexibly and develop competence, safe practice and understanding, closing the gap between theory and practice (Harder, 2018;Weeks et al, 2019). Simulation also offers an opportunity to assess critical thinking (Chitongo and Suthers, 2019; Lee and Peacock, 2020).With the correct resources and support, facilitating the emulation of practical physical midwifery skills is achievable, and a similar approach can be used to model research knowledge.
Efforts have been made to embed evidence-based practice by increasing research exposure for student nurses and midwives through involvement in projects and undertaking research for their undergraduate thesis (Borrelli et al, 2020; Grønning et al, 2022). In the authors’ experience, students may independently seek research exposure through elective placements within specialist teams. However, this is often limited to students who seek these opportunities rather than being a universal expectation.The issue of how to excite every student to the power of translating research into practice remains.
The authors question whether students acknowledge evidence-based practice to be the integration of clinical expertise with critical appraisal of the best available clinically relevant evidence (Sackett, 1997) and suggest that joining these elements puts safe practice at the fore.
British Journal of Midwifery, September 2022, Vol 30, No 9