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Midwifery. 2008 Sep;24(3):301-9. Epub 2007 Feb 2.

The efficacy of midwifery role models.

Author information

  • 1School of Nursing and Midwifery, Southampton University, Highfield, Southampton BH17 IBJ, UK. bcc@btinternet.com



to explore the influence of midwifery role models on the role that student midwives learn.


a qualitative approach using specifically grounded theory, was adopted. Data were collected by means of unstructured tape-recorded interviews, and analysed using the constant comparative method.


South of England.


20 student midwives undertaking either an 18-month pre-registration shortened programme or a 3-4-year long programme were included in the study, along with 17 midwives practising in a variety of settings.


students learn the role of midwife in a changing culture, in which some midwives practise autonomously and others continue to rely on doctors to make their decisions. Students emulate the role of the midwife with whom they work. This suggests that all midwives are effective role models. Midwives who demonstrate the role of handmaiden to the doctor are inappropriate role models. They perpetuate a culture of midwifery that neither meets professional expectations nor the needs of women. Because they have power, students emulate these role models when in their presence. Midwives who practise autonomously are appropriate and influential role models. From these role models, students learn how to become autonomous practitioners. They emulate the practice of these role models because they want to, and intimate that they will continue to do so when their name is entered on the Nursing and Midwifery Council Professional Register.


if learning inappropriate behaviours are to be avoided, attention needs to be paid to role modelling.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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