Continued Professional Development for Early Career Midwives in Aotearoa New Zealand: An Appreciative Inquiry
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The question this appreciative inquiry study asks is, ‘What are early career midwives’ experiences of working in maternity hospitals that support their continued professional development?’ Professional development is a crucial part of being a safe competent midwifery practitioner. Currently, maternity hospitals in Aotearoa New Zealand are experiencing severe workforce shortages alongside the increased acuity of the community for whom they care. One of the important aspects of providing quality maternity care and cultural safety is the need to strengthen the sustainability of the workforce to provide better support for the women/people, whānau, and pēpe in Aotearoa New Zealand. In Aotearoa New Zealand, there is a structured professional development transition to practice programme for the first year of practice. However, following the first year, the continued professional development for the midwife is arbitrary. It is crucial for hospitals to know how to support their midwives’ continued professional development for the midwife to see a future within the organisation, have job satisfaction, and plan to stay in their role. An appreciative Inquiry method underpinned my study. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with eight midwives in the first two to five years post registration, employed in a large maternity hospital in Aotearoa New Zealand, with the aim of revealing what supported their continued professional development. Interview data were analysed by thematic analysis. Midwives in my study measured their continued professional development as being their own growth as a midwife. Three themes were identified from the data. ‘A way of working – Feeling a Culture of trust,’ ‘Being guided,’ and ‘Feeling confident.’ The findings highlight the positive experiences from a group of early career midwives working in a maternity hospital, and reveal that an organisation with a trusting culture, and supportive collegial relationships, creates opportunities for early career midwives to develop professionally. The findings will be helpful to informing policy makers, managers, and midwives who are looking to find ways to sustain the employed midwifery workforce.