Dr Christine Catling aims to strengthen retention of midwives in the workplace and enhance the quality of maternity care in Australia with her recently received UTS Early Career Research (ECR) grant. This research, following on from her previous work, ‘Australian midwives’ experiences of their workplace culture’ [opens external site], involves analysing the results of the Australian Midwifery Workplace Culture (AMWoC) study survey. The 47-item survey was designed to ascertain midwives’ views on their workplace culture. The survey includes questions on workplace support from peers and managers, workplace values and the ability to give quality care. The results will be used to identify and monitor workplace changes required to improve workforce communication, collaboration, collegiality and morale. Strategies for improving workplace culture will therefore be determined by midwives themselves, based on the responses gathered in the survey.
The AMWoC study seeks to address the current lack of knowledge about the midwifery workplace culture in Australia, and its bearing on retention and attrition of staff. With midwives the largest group of maternity service providers, workforce shortfalls are likely to have a negative impact on the care, well-being and safety of childbearing women and their families. The investigation for the AMWoC study resulted from highly publicised shortcomings in nursing and midwifery care in Australia and the UK which were largely due to a negative workplace culture. These reports resulted in poor patient care and high levels of adverse outcomes, including unnecessary deaths and staff attrition. A recent UK report also stated that 80% midwives who have left the profession would consider returning to midwifery if there was a change in the workplace culture.
In addition to analysis of existing findings, the current research will enable further validation of the AMWoC study by midwifery managers. The validation will involve the managers assessing the survey questions for their dependability and usefulness in the clinical environment. This will permit the survey tool to be used in further longitudinal work to monitor and continually improve the midwifery workplace environment.
Byline: Madelyn Lines