The increased complexity of obstetric care, the wishes expressed by women, the perinatal mortality figures and the recommendations given in the report of the steering committee ‘Een goed begin’ (A good start) have made it clear that changes are needed in perinatal care. Significant steps have already been taken to improve the level of care and to enhance cooperation between professionals in the field. KNOV is working together with the various midwifery training establishments to define a new comprehensive professional profile. The midwife of the future will be active in the primary, transmural and clinical healthcare sectors, and receives an academic education to fit her for these tasks. The Amsterdam/Groningen Academy of Midwifery (AVAG) is already updating its curriculum in anticipation of this new professional profile.
New demands on midwifery care
The complexity of obstetric care has increased in recent years. Midwives are faced with new demands on a daily basis in the course of their professional practice. Increasing knowledge of pregnancy and childbirth increases the scope for effective care and treatment in this field.
This makes it increasingly important for the midwife to be able to select the best pregnancy and childbirth protocol, in consultation with the client. To make this possible, the midwife must be able to base her actions on the results of research carried out by herself or others, and to think beyond the boundaries of her own discipline.
Cooperation with other healthcare disciplines
Obstetric care will be organized in a different way in future. The main focus will be on the client, and continuity of care will become increasingly important. The midwife of the future will be active throughout the obstetric chain, both in the primary and the clinical sector – though the boundaries between the various areas of the field will probably become increasingly blurred. She will continue to play the traditional role of midwife in visits to the client’s home, but will also be able to act as the physiological expert in a clinical setting. In order to fulfil this pivotal function, she must be able to work together with healthcare professionals from other disciplines as an equal partner.
Research as a basis for an academic approach
AVAG took the first step towards the creation of an academic training programme in 2008, when it set up the department of Midwifery Science in cooperation with VUmc. Eileen Hutton was appointed professor of Midwifery Science in 2010. This provided the department with the solid academic basis required for renewal of the curriculum.
New professional profile
AVAG has made a big contribution to the formulation of the new professional profile of the midwife in cooperation with the other midwifery training establishments. The draft professional profile was completed at the end of 2011, and in 2012 KNOV circulated it to experts and external partners for their comments. The various midwifery training establishments held a number of working conferences devoted to the new profile in the same year, where we worked out the implications of the profile in various professional situations in consultation with working midwives from the primary and clinical sectors. We also considered the requirements made by the new professional profile on the content of the midwifery training programme. These discussions of the professional profile will be continued, for example with our immediate partners in obstetric care.
An excellent vocational training curriculum
AVAG is developing a new curriculum that will prepare students to deliver a comprehensive package of midwifery care on the basis of a care model in which midwives are trained to assume responsibility for medium-risk situations and to work together with healthcare professionals from other disciplines. The academic component of the training programme is being augmented to provide students with a sound basis for conducting academic research.
Students will have the opportunity to pay extra attention to such matters as health sciences, epidemiology and clinical midwifery. The curriculum will offer extra challenges to good and excellent students. Apart from the regular vocational training programme, students will be able to take an honours degree programme that will enable students to work effectively in a comprehensive care environment and will prepare those who wish to go on to do a Master’s degree programme.
The new curriculum will come into force in September 2014.
Anticipating the new curriculum
Starting in the 2012-2013 academic year, excellent, ambitious students will have the opportunity to take the first year of the academic Master’s degree programme in Evidence-based Practice (EBP) or a one-year pre-Master’s course of the academic Master’s degree programme in Health Sciences.