Future clinical academic midwife and the Midwifery Research Group

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Aim of the initiative: To create a professional space and community of support for midwives with an interest in both clinical and academic work.

Initiative: Clinical academic career pathways for Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professionals (NMAHPs) are a strategic priority for NHS England, and there has been significant investment in the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Integrated Clinical Academic (ICA) programme for non-medical healthcare professionals. NMAHPs face numerous barriers to successfully building a clinical academic career. For those outside the NIHR ICA programme, clinical academic career approaches are varied and often driven by individual practitioners rather than robust organisational processes or strategy. The vision of Future Midwife is that midwives maximise opportunities in research and scholarship, however there is little clarity about how these academic aspirations may be supported.
Among clinicians, initial interest in research can be sparked by interaction with colleagues involved in research. Role models for aspiring clinical academic midwives are crucial to enable individuals to recognise and understand developmental routes available to them. For student midwives, identifying links between clinical practice and research and encouraging research-focused discussion can enliven the concept of evidence-based practice. Cultural challenges can exist within maternity services where there is little active midwifery research culture and in such an environment, midwives wishing to pursue clinical academic work may struggle to see a path ahead. Finding ways to support aspiring clinical academic midwives to engage in this rewarding and important facet of midwifery practice is key to realising Future Midwife’s scholarly credentials.

Process: In early 2021 a scoping exercise took place at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, to establish the appetite among clinical colleagues for a research -related forum. The aim of the forum would be to create a space for midwives with clinical academic interests to learn from one another through sharing research or academic experiences in an informal and relaxed setting. Following confirmation of interest among colleagues, Midwifery Research Group was launched in June 2021.

Outcome: MRG is now a well-established clinical academic forum and network, with bi-monthly online meetings which extend across the local maternity and neonatal system and welcome student midwives. Members have positively evaluated their involvement in the group as a unique opportunity to engage in an informal supportive environment to discuss pertinent research and midwifery issues through a clinical academic lens.

Conclusion/main learning: Forums such as the Midwifery Research Group are a positive way to support the development of future clinical academic midwives.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023

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