A cross sectional study of midwifery students’ experiences of COVID-19: Uncertainty and expendability
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The impact of COVID-19 on midwifery students is anticipated to be multi-faceted. Our aim was to explore Australian midwifery students' experiences of providing maternity care during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a cross-sectional study 147 students were recruited through social media. Data were collected through an online survey and semi-structured interviews. Surveys were analysed using descriptive statistics; interviews and open text responses were interpreted through qualitative analysis. Findings revealed students found communication from hospitals and universities to be confusing, inconsistent and they relied on mass media and each other to remain updated. Moving to online learning and being isolated from peers made learning difficult. During clinical placements, students felt expendable in terms of their value and contribution, reflected in essential equipment such as personal protective equipment not always being available to them. Witnessing perceived compromised midwifery care increased students' emotional burden, while personal household responsibilities and financial concerns were problematic. One silver lining witnessed was women's appreciation of an improved ‘babymoon’, with fewer visitors, allowing uninterrupted time to establish breastfeeding and connection with their baby. Findings may guide management of midwifery education during future pandemics or health crises for universities and hospitals.
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