Objectives: To explore and describe the preferred model of practice and first job decisions of final stage midwifery students from three Western Australian universities.
Design: Qualitative descriptive.
Setting: Three Western Australian (WA) universities offering courses leading to registration as a midwife.
Participants: Twenty-seven midwifery students from undergraduate and postgraduate (pre-registration) courses.
Methods: Data were collected from recorded interviews and focus groups. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts was used to identify commonalities. Data saturation guided when recruitment ceased and final sample size was achieved.
Findings: Participants’ preferred model of maternity care was influenced by learning about and witnessing both autonomous midwifery practice and collaborative care during their studies. The greatest influence was clinical experience, with most preferring a continuity of midwifery model (CoM) but first consolidating their practice in a public hospital. Most students reported that they would not choose a private hospital as their first option. Work/life balance was also considered, with some accepting that family commitments and a need to work close to home may prevent them from choosing a CoM model.
Conclusion and implications: Although many Australian midwifery students start their midwifery course with preconceived ideology of their eventual workplace, the influences of their educators, clinical placement environment, preceptors and continuity of care experience relationships with women helped determine their final direction. To provide students with the experiences to become woman-centred autonomous practitioners it is important for universities and all maternity care providers to carefully consider their responsibility in how they influence midwifery students in education and practice.