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Nurse Educ Today. 2013 Aug;33(8):866-72. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2012.09.015. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

The evolution of midwifery education at the master's level: a study of Swedish midwifery education programmes after the implementation of the Bologna process.

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Institute of Health and Care Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Box 457, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden.


In Europe, midwifery education has undergone a number of reforms in the past few decades. In several countries, it has shifted from vocational training to academic education. The higher education reform, known as the "Bologna process" aimed to create convergence in higher education among a number of European countries and enhance opportunities for mobility, employment and collaborative research. It also indicated a transparent and easily compared system of academic degrees, generating a new educational system in three cycles. This study explores the implementation of the process in Sweden when the midwifery education was transferred from diploma to postgraduate or master's level. The aim of this study was to analyse how the implementation of the Bologna process in the Swedish higher education system has impacted midwifery education programmes in the country. Descriptive statistics and content analysis were employed to analyse 32 questionnaire responses from teachers and the 2009-2010 curricula and syllabi of 11 postgraduate midwifery education programmes at Swedish universities and university colleges. The results revealed variations among the universities at the major subject into the three disciplines; midwifery, nursing and caring with different conceptualisations, even when the content was identical in the curricula to that of the midwifery professional knowledge base. Implementation of the new reform not only has accelerated the academisation process, but also puts higher demand on the students and requires higher competencies among teachers to involve more evidence-based knowledge, seminars, independent studies and a postgraduate degree project in the major subject. Thus the students earn not only a diploma in midwifery, but also a master's degree in the major subject, which affords the opportunity for an academic career. But still there is a tension between professional and academic education.


Bologna process; Higher education; Midwifery curriculum; Midwifery education programme; Postgraduate level; Survey

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