INEC - Increasing Ethical Competence in Midwifery Education and Practice
Ethical competence includes the ability to identify ethical problems in nursing, to solve ethical problems and act ethically. Because of the diverse and pluralistic society, both ethical problems and solutions relating to sexual and reproductive health in midwifery practice are becoming more complex. For example, questions about abortion, infertility or prenatal screening or alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy require high quality competence from midwives to work in a patient-oriented way and to foster clients’ self-management during pregnancy on their way to becoming a family. Situations requiring ethical problem-solving are present in everyday working life.
Achieving ethical competence during midwifery education is one of the main learning targets. Midwifery education needs to give a strong basis for ethical competence in the graduation of midwifery students. Students felt that their ethical competence increased, particularly as a result of dealing with ethical problems and solving them in clinical training. According to the students, open and reflective support given by the supervisor is crucial for the development of the students’ own ethical competence.
Little research has been carried out relating to health care students’ and educators’ learning, teaching and competence in terms of ethics. In addition, the concrete tools to support ethical competence are lacking. As a result of this gap, the international INEC project was set up.
The first step in the INEC project is to identify the needs and good practices through an exploration of current practices of midwifery ethics education from the perspective of midwives, midwifery students and teachers. These explorations will be implemented in midwifery students’ Bachelor’s theses. The second step is to plan a pilot educational model for continuing education, mentoring and supervision at work, based on the results of the exploration study. The educational model will also include tools for midwifery students’ theoretical ethics studies and clinical practice.
After the piloting, the educational model will be evaluated and further developed. As a result there will be permanent practices of ethical competence support and tools for the use of midwifery education and clinical practice.