How to become a Midwife

Midwives provide care, education, advice and support to women and their families during pregnancy, labour and birth, and provide postnatal care to women and babies in the early weeks following birth.

Personal requirements of a Midwife

  • Good communication skills
  • Able to assume responsibility and take leadership
  • Able to take initiative in emergencies
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Tolerant and patient when dealing with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Able to cope with the physical and psychological demands of the job

Education & Training for a Midwife

To become a midwife you usually have to study midwifery at university. Alternatively, you can undertake a postgraduate qualification in midwifery if you have completed a degree in registered nursing. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, biology and chemistry are normally required. A number of universities in Australia offer degrees in midwifery. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree and registration as a nurse. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Midwife

Midwives may perform the following tasks:

  • provide clinical midwifery care and support for women, their babies and their families
  • detect any complications that may develop for a mother or her baby
  • arrange appropriate consultations and referrals, and implement emergency measures when necessary
  • work as a part of a multidisciplinary team, liaising with other healthcare professionals to provide the best care for childbearing women, their babies and families
  • observe, monitor, assess, report and document care provided to women and their babies, as well as their responses to treatment
  • administer medication to women and their babies as required
  • prepare women for operative birth and provide post-operative care
  • provide education and advice about health matters for women, their families and the wider community
  • answer questions and provide information to women and their families about treatment and care
  • contribute to the clinical training of midwifery, medical and other students
  • directly supervise other health professionals who may be involved in the care of women and their babies as required.

Working conditions for a Midwife

Midwives usually work to a rotating seven-day roster that includes morning, afternoon and night shifts, as well as weekends and public holidays. Alternatively, they may work in more flexible models of care that allow them to structure their working hours around the needs of the women for whom they care. They are often required to work on call.

Employment Opportunities for a Midwife

Midwives may work in public and private hospitals, community and home-based services, community health centres and development programs, women’s shelters, women’s prisons, the armed forces, refugee centres and fertility clinics. Midwives may be required, or have the opportunity, to work in rural and remote areas. They may also work in private practice by themselves, with other midwives or with a doctor. Midwives are also employed in international aid agencies and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. An increasing number of midwives are self-employed as consultants and educators. Midwifery is a growing professional area and there are varied opportunities for midwives to work in clinical settings, as well as within education and research. With experience, and sometimes further training, midwives may take on supervisory or management positions.

Specialisations:


Midwifery Educator

A midwifery educator supports and teaches midwifery students; assists with the development, design, implementation and evaluation of midwifery education and professional development programmes; and manages educational resources.

Additional Information
Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and immunisations, and undergo a Working with Children Check. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. It is a legal requirement for graduates to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia before practising as a midwife in any state or territory in Australia. For full details, visit the board’s website.
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