Ethics Education in Midwifery Education Programs in the United States

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Abstract

Introduction:

Familiarity with ethical concepts is a required competency for new graduates and a component of accreditation for midwifery education programs in the United States. While midwifery educators have acknowledged the importance of ethics education in midwifery programs, little is known about current methods, format, or evaluation of ethics education.

Methods:

A Web-based survey was developed for program directors of accredited midwifery education programs in the United States. Clock hours, formats, venues, content topics, barriers, and evaluation methods were evaluated by descriptive analysis.

Results:

Fifty-one percent of programs completed the online survey (25/49). Of these, only 7 (28%) offer ethics as a stand-alone class, although all responding programs integrate some ethics education into other core classes. Programs show variation in format, venue, resources, and clock hours dedicated to ethics education. The most frequent barrier to ethics education is an already crowded curriculum (60%), although 32% of programs denied any barriers at all. The majority of programs include the ethical concepts of informed consent, shared decision making, and effective communication in curriculum content.

Discussion:

This survey found that there is considerable variation in ethics education in terms of content, format, and evaluation among accredited midwifery education programs in the United States. Midwifery educators have an opportunity to explore the ethical dilemmas unique to maternity care from a midwifery perspective. There is also the opportunity to create a comprehensive and dynamic midwifery ethics curriculum, which incorporates both stand-alone ethics courses and ethics concepts that are woven throughout the core midwifery curriculum.

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