Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate whether an International two-week clinical maternity placement enhances, and is beneficial, to midwifery students’ future practice and employment decisions during the final year of an undergraduate degree.
Background: International placements are common in undergraduate pre-registration nursing midwifery university curricula, with the emphasis on preparing students to work with diverse women in multicultural environments whilst incorporating cultural competence. However, little is known as to whether an International placement influences future graduate's work place choice.
Methods: Using a qualitative approach, focus groups were undertaken with 16 final year midwifery students from a University in Western Australia who had experienced a two-week International clinical midwifery placement in Tanzania (Africa) or Manilla (Philippines). Data was analysed using thematic analysis.
Findings: The results of the study revealed eight over-arching themes that revealed an increase in midwifery student's confidence; an awareness of the need to consolidate knowledge and skills, reinforcement of their own career aspirations, midwifery beliefs and trust in women and physiological birth.
Conclusion: This study confirms the benefits of overseas clinical placements, which provide opportunities beyond developing cultural sensitivity. Midwifery students are challenged to develop not only practical competence, but confidence to trust in themselves and the process of physiological birth. These experiences validate theoretical learning and provide opportunity to reflect on the possibilities of future employment and decision making as a midwife.