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Published on May 10th, 2013 | by The Tertangala

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NURSING STUDENTS IN THE DARK OVER MIDWIFERY CUTS

By Brittany Carter

There has been some confusion of late about the University’s decision to cut its Master of Science (Midwifery) course in 2013.

Many students have been left out of the loop and were completely unaware that the course was suspended for 2013. Others were confused as to why.

Tertangala has attempted to present as much information as possible to our readers regarding the course dismissal.

However, with the exception of Mercy Baafi, the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences did not respond to Tertangala’ emails, or replied with general, unspecific statements.

In an interview with the Illawarra Mercury, Professor Iverson said the Master of Science (Midwifery) course would be suspended for 2013 while a review was conducted to assess whether “it would be compliant from next year due to changes occurring in the Australian Qualifications Framework”.

He said, “The length of the program is the issue, under the changes a Masters course is expected to be longer. So we need to review it to ensure if we decide to run a midwifery program in the future… it is compliant with legislation.”

The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s Health Services Plan for 2012-2022, published in October 2012, recognised the ageing of the nursing and midwifery workforce.

“The change in enrolled nurse training has seen a significant reduction in this classification of staff entering the nursing workforce and this places a noticeable strain on the efficiency of health service.”

Leanne Mills, the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services told the Illawarra Mercury, “The ISLHD is currently looking at alternatives to providing midwifery training to potential applicants”.

UOW’s Mercy Baafi, a lecturer in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health, informed the Tertangala that it was time for the whole curriculum to be reviewed.

She said there is a definite shortage of midwives in the Illawarra and that UOW was hoping to offer the course in the future.  UOW aims to ensure no student currently enrolled in the Master of Science (Midwifery) program will be disadvantaged as a result of the review.

We spoke to three UOW students that were either beginning or already undertaking an undergraduate degree in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health.

All three were unaware of the suspension of the course. It is clear that minimal information regarding the midwifery course cuts has been presented to students, which explains why there is so much confusion surrounding the course review.

Lisa Metcalfe, a consumer representative on the Masters of Midwifery External Advisory Committee, remarked she was unaware of any cuts to the program but was not surprised (that she did not know) considering the committee only meets three times a year.

“If the cuts are real I want to know how severe. If the whole program is going then that is pretty harsh as this course has a great reputation. This course is highly sought after and many applicants are turned away each year,” she said.

Metcalfe considered it a “huge loss for the community,” adding “the local hospitals accept students as trainees… this means we are missing out on training local people who will stay in the area and contribute to our existing health services”.

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