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Connect program helps students and expectant mothers experience continuity of care. 

Student midwives are receiving first-hand experience in antenatal, birth and postnatal care through a program that places them in hospitals to join expectant mothers on their pregnancy journey.

The University of the Sunshine Coast’s Connect Program, with funding from Health Workforce Australia, allows midwifery students to work alongside a pregnant woman’s chosen care-provider within public or private hospitals, as well as privately practising midwives.

“What the connect program does is allow students to follow women …to really establish that therapeutic relationship and to be able to experience what the woman is experiencing throughout that time,” Connect Program coordinator Jessie Johnson-Cash said.

Johnson-Cash said the program assisted midwifery students “by giving them experience working in the full scope of midwifery practice”.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council requires midwifery students to be involved in the care of more than 20 women throughout the course of their pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal period, as part of the clinical practicum. Johnson-Cash said there was much evidence that many pregnant women desired continuity of midwifery care, and that students don’t have much opportunity to provide that type of care due to a shortage of continuity-of-care models, particularly on the Sunshine Coast.

“Reforms are happening to increase the number of women who have access to continuity of care models, and part of the [reason we have students doing] this is so that we are training up midwives to be able to provide that model of care,” Johnson-Cash said.

USC’s Collaborative Midwifery Clinic facilitator, Alison Broderick, said the program was essential to student midwives’ development because it helps them complete follow-through requirements.

“We do group antenatal care where we see all the women together, it’s called ‘Expecting and Connecting’, and it allows the student to build up a really good relationship with the women,” Broderick said.

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