Applying a Midwifery Lens to Indigenous Health Care Delivery: The Contribution of Campus Learning and Rural Placements to Effecting Systemic Change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

STUDY BACKGROUND: Increasing cultural safety in health settings is essential to address stark health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Respect for cultural knowledge, better communication, and recognition of racism as a determinant of health are required for improved service delivery. How this knowledge is acquired in health professional training and translated to clinical settings is poorly understood. PURPOSE: Impacts of an innovative Indigenous health unit and remote clinical placements on knowledge acquisition and attitude change were explored among midwifery students to inform cultural competency initiatives in health professional training. METHODS: A multiphased, mixed methods research design used surveys, observations, and interviews. Qualitative analysis was strengthened through triangulation with quantitative data. RESULTS: A unit conceived with substantial Indigenous Australian input and which privileged these voices enhanced knowledge and shifted attitudes in a positive direction; however, immediate gains diminished over time. Remote placements had a profound effect on student learning. Exposure to Indigenous Australians in classrooms and communities, and the self-reflection generated, helped dispel stereotypes and challenge assumptions based on limited cultural knowledge and contact. CONCLUSION: Optimization of receptivity to Indigenous Australian content and opportunities for remote placements contributed to students' developing cultural capabilities with implications for all health professional training. Whether this heightened awareness is enough to address institutional racism identified in health service delivery remains unanswered. The focus must include those established health practitioners and administrators who influence organizational culture if real systemic change is to occur. Given appropriate on-going support, graduates can play a vital role in expediting this process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-188
Number of pages10
JournalThe Canadian journal of nursing research = Revue canadienne de recherche en sciences infirmieres
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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