Start of the new Bachelor of Midwifery programme

It has been an incredibly busy couple of months since I returned from a brief summer break to finish preparations on the midwifery practice skills course for the start of our new programme. There were some last minute adjustments to make and I completed work on the documentation section of the communication module. All of the other learning resources required for the start of the programme were ready but required proof  reading and correction. A couple of resources, not required until later in the year, will be developed as time allows. I will not discuss here the other teaching and administrative duties that are part of my workload however it is worth noting that they exist and required some of my time initially. I have had to put all of these to one side as the start of the new programme neared.

2nd February 2009.

Start of the new combined Bachelor of Midwifery programme with OP and CPIT.

We welcomed our new class on the 2nd of February, much earlier than any of the other programmes begin and well before our other students returned. This is because our new programme has an extended academic year, allowing increased practice hours for the students. This increase in practice hours is a new requirment from our Midwifery Council and is part of the reason for changing our programme of study. Orientation week began with a welcome to otago Polytechnic  lead by Kaitohutohu Dr Khyla Russell. The rest of the day was an introduction to the institution and the programme. When I had a chance I mentioned the facebook group I had established to keep the students connected to each other and was happily surprised by how many were existing facebook users. The requests for membership of the group came thick and fast after that.  The next day we went off to Whare Flat scout camp and spent the next couple of days there. Staff from the sport institute came along and did a great job in with some team activities. We also ran a couple of workshops on communication. In the evening we did some belly dancing, very novice but fun, we all got involved. We have a staff member and one of our new students who are instructors in this art. We also went for a hike, needless to say I was the tail end Charlie, but I made it. We all seemed to find these two days very worthwhile for getting to know each other.  On Thursday students had another day full of polytechnic information, I had to cover things such as fire safety, harassment and bullying prevention etc. This was the end of the week as it was the Waitangi weekend holiday.

I had the students all day on Monday and introduced the concept of professional portfolios then went on to introduce the practice skills course. We then started the skills with standard precautions, infection control and handwashing. Tuesday we were introducing the students to recording vital signs, one of my colleagues gave a brief lecture to outline key aspects before they got down to looking at equipment and doing this skill. All the learning resources around these topics are online for the student and we have linked to excellent freely available resources such as:

Unfortunately I came down with a horrid bug on Tuesday and was forced to come home where I have been moaning a groaning ever since. Today I am feeling almost Ok so thought I might use a little of my time to record this.

I am aware of the huge amount of work I still have to do in organising the midwifery practice placements and finding women willing to have students involved and share their experience of childbirth. If you happen to be a pregnant woman in Otago or Southland and are willing to have a student please drop me a line to There is still the small amount of development work to do and we may need to fine tune some of our existing resources in response to student feedback if this is necessary. Of course all the other things I have had to put to one side are urgently calling for attention.

My reflections on the start of the programme.

It is a shame I was not around for the whole week. My sense was that the students have gelled quite well and that is has been a positive start.  The Scout camp was fun but was also a good team building opportunity. I was dubious about conducting the communication workshops there but it actually did work quite well.

It is a  hassle that we have to organise MRSA screening and Mantoux for the students, just another little job amongst so many. It would be much easier if the students came with this already competed.

We have the portfolio, which is an over-arching programme document positioned in the first year practice skills course. I think this is a mistake as it makes this course appear overly complex where in fact it is simpler with fewer assessment components than we had in the old programme. There are components of the practice skills which fit within the portfolio and there are components of other courses that fit here too. I believe it needs a separate  but linked place in the overall programme interface. We need to come together as a team to decide how to do this and how to present it to the students in the future.

I am not sure about having these two weeks combined. I believe it would be better to have one week for orientation, giving the students access to the learning resources. I would  then give them a week away to get to grips with the material followed by another week to come together, brain storm how they are finding the online resources, what questions they have and provide any support they need. The students would also be prepared for the practical skills and we would not need to cover so much additional material with them. I may have a go at drawing up an alternative orientation time table for consideration by the midwifery school team.

The facebook group seems to be working well, nearly all the students are members and they are communicating with each other through this group. I have seen a suggestion in facebook that they also connect through Skype, so I am pleased that this network is becoming established.  Hopefully it will prove supportive for the students. There is another resource being established as a joint project between OP and CPIT called ‘The Midwfery Junction’ which is intended to connect midwives on a wider plane.

Overall I think it has been positive. I remain a little apprehensive about the students experience and would love to hear what they think. So if any of you are reading this please drop me a comment here and let me know, or write something in facebook about how this has all been for you. My particular interest is in the practice skills course but of course this is only part of the whole for the students and their experience will be coloured by the other courses also.

We finally seem to have our Moodle site looking good! It has taken a long time to achieve.

Signing off

Well now I have done this I have to go a tidy up my house a bit if I can find the energy.

Leave a comment


  1. Great to hear everything is up and running smoothly. Would love to hear more about the integration of portfolio into the first year course – will it be electronic?

  2. Hi Sarah, I introduced portfolios as a professional requirement. There is an online portfolio document in mooodle [a blend of the old practice record]] which outlines what is required, gives pages for signing off experiences and guides reflection. There is also a learning contract in this document which is part of the assessment in the practice skills course. I explained about digital, paper based and online, gave links to your portfolio and also mine [which is not getting far at present]. What the students choose to do is up to them OP have not opted for any particular preference. I will be interested to see how many go with e-portfolios. It was a very brief introduction. It is so great to have your example there for them, so thanks so much for that.
    As I said the portfolio is an over arching document across different courses and over the three years, I don’t think it belongs in practice skills alone but needs to be integrated programme wide. I would value any thoughts you have on this.

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  4. Thanks for the update C. Very happy for you that it is going well so far. It is a very encourging sign that some are self organising online especially. I wish I could take a peek at how you guys are doing things, but oh well… I spose I could get a password 🙂


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