At least 20 continuity-of-care experiences are compulsory for student midwives in Australia, but little is known about this learning component. This paper presents an analysis of continuity experiences in one Region, incorporating diverse stakeholder perspectives from student midwives, maternity managers and registered midwives, with the aim of better understanding and optimizing experiences.
Qualitative methods were utilized, employing mainly focus groups. Participants included 15 student midwives from the Regional University, 14 midwives and six managers, employed at the Regional referral hospital.
Four themes were identified in the data; "woman-centred care", "counting the cost", "mutual benefits" and "into the future". The significant benefits of student continuity-of-care experiences were outlined by all three participant groups. Continuity experiences for student midwives facilitated the development of a woman-centred focus in the provision of maternity care. While the experience was challenging for students it was beneficial not only to them, but to registered midwives, the maternity services, and ultimately childbearing women.
In order to appropriately prepare midwives for existing and future maternity services, and to continue to meet women's needs in all service delivery models, we require midwives who are well grounded in a woman-centred care philosophy and have had exposure to various care models.