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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 36(1)

Managing projected midwifery workforce deficits through collaborative partnerships

Meredith J. McIntyre A F , Alison M. Patrick B , Linda K. Jones C , Michelle Newton D , Helen McLachlan D , Jane Morrow E and Harriet Morton D

A School of Nursing & Midwifery, Monash University, Peninsula Campus, Frankston, Vic. 3199, Australia.
B Mercy Hospital for Women, Studley Road, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia. Email: alison.patrick@me.com
C Discipline of Nursing and Midwifery, RMIT University, Plenty Road, Bundoora, Vic. 3083, Australia. Email: linda.jones@rmit.edu.au
D School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University, Plenty Road, Bundoora, Vic. 3086, Australia. Email: michelle.newton@latrobe.edu.au; h.mclachlan@latrobe.edu.au; h.morton@latrobe.edu.au
E School of Nursing and Midwifery, Australian Catholic University, Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, Vic. 3065, Australia. Email: jane.morrow@acu.edu.au
F Corresponding author. Email: meredith.mcintyre@monash.edu

Australian Health Review 36(1) 75-78 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH11020
Submitted: 9 March 2011  Accepted: 4 August 2011   Published: 24 February 2012

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To address workforce shortages, the Australian Government funded additional nursing and midwifery places in 2009 pre-registration courses. An existing deficit in midwifery clinical placements, combined with the need to secure additional clinical placements, contributed to a serious shortfall. In response, a unique collaboration between Midwifery Academics of Victoria (MIDAC), rural and metropolitan maternity managers (RMM and MMM) groups and Department of Health (DOH) Victoria was generated, in order to overcome difficulties experienced by maternity services in meeting the increased need. This group identified the large number of different clinical assessment tools required to be being completed by midwives supervising students as problematic. It was agreed that the development of a Common Assessment Tool (CAT) for use in clinical assessment across all pre-registration midwifery courses in Victoria had the potential to reduce workload associated with student assessments and, in doing so, release additional placements within each service. The CAT was developed in 2009 and implemented in 2010. The unique collaboration involved in the development of the CAT is a blueprint for future projects. The collaboration on this project provided a range of benefits and challenges, as well as unique opportunities for further collaborations involving industry, government, regulators and the tertiary sector.

What is known about this topic? In response to current and predicted workforce shortages, the Australian Government funded additional midwifery places in pre-registration midwifery courses in 2009, creating the need for additional midwifery student clinical placements. Victorian midwifery service providers experienced difficulty in the supply of the additional placements requested, due to complex influences constraining clinical placement opportunities; one of these was the array of assessment tools being used by students on clinical placements.

What does this paper add? A collaborative partnership between MIDAC, RMM and MMM groups, and the DOH identified a range of problems affecting the ability of midwifery services to increase clinical placements. The workload burden attached to the wide range of clinical assessment tools required to be completed by the supervising midwife for each placement was identified as the most urgent problem requiring resolution. The collaborative partnership approach facilitated the development of a CAT capable of meeting the needs of all key stakeholders.

What are the implications for managers and policy makers? Using a collaborative partnership workshop approach, the development of a clear project focus where all participants understood the outcome required was achieved. This collaboration occurred at multiple levels with support from the DOH and was key to the success of the project. The approach strengthens problem solving in situations complicated by competing influences, a common occurrence in health service delivery, and where unilateral approaches have not or are unlikely to succeed.

Additional keywords: clinical placements, collaboration, maternity services, workforce.


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