Skip to main content

Teaching and learning about birth & midwifery – Undergraduate nursing experiences with midwives in Ontario

Study Lead
Study Lead
Assistant Professor
Alicia Papanicolaou, RN
Erna Snelgrove-Clarke, RN PhD
Claire Portigal, RM

What?  Nursing students enrolled at the Queen’s University School of Nursing are all offered clinical placements in the NURS 371: Maternal and Child, Family-Centred Nursing Care course. Some students are placed with midwives for their clinical placement – a unique opportunity because clinical placements and preceptorships with midwives are in high demand in Canada. We know that collaboration is associated with improved patient and provider satisfaction, clinical outcomes, safety, and quality of care. There are also increasing calls for more interprofessional learning opportunities for nursing students. In this study, we are exploring the experiences of nursing students and midwife preceptors in maternal-newborn nursing clinical placements at Queen’s University. Our research question is: How do midwives and nursing students experience clinical placements within a maternal-newborn nursing course? We are also interested to know how nursing students collaborate during clinical placements and how these placements may influence their understandings of birth and midwifery.


Why? In Canada, midwives and nurses are educated and licensed separately, yet there is some overlap in their practices. These similarities in practice have fueled tensions between midwives and nurses, and these tensions have hindered collaboration. Interprofessional learning opportunities are an important strategy to foster effective interprofessional collaboration for health care providers. To challenge historical tensions between midwives and nurses and to cultivate interprofessional collaboration, we need to explore how interprofessional learning opportunities between nursing students and midwives at the Queen’s University School of Nursing may influence nurses’ and midwives’ understandings of birth and midwifery.


How? In this case study we will include former nursing students and midwife preceptors involved in NURS 371 clinical placements between 2015 and 2020. Participants will answer demographic questions and participate in a 60-minute individual virtual interview. We will use feminist poststructuralist discourse analysis to critically and deeply explore the data, with particular focus on how power, gender, and the social, historical, institutional discourses shaped the participant's experiences and understandings. 


Impact of findings: The study findings will improve our understandings of the clinical experiences of interprofessional collaboration between nurses and midwives and support effective collaborations in perinatal health care education and practice.


Find out more on Twitter (@CIRCLEofbirth)


Funded By
the School of Nursing Research Development Fund