The context of healthcare and of healthcare education has radically changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. To identify positive strategies for midwifery education in this context, five case studies from the UK and beyond were conducted using an appreciative enquiry approach, from the perspectives of students, the maternity services, cross-university collaboration, and digital learning. A health system analysis was used to identify strategies to cope, adapt, and transform for the future, at the levels of individuals, teams, and the whole system.

Findings showed that the implementation of effective responses was possible. Responding effectively and rapidly to a shock as profound as this pandemic requires courageous, respectful, evidence-based, innovative, collaborative, cross-sectoral working and leadership across education institutions, practice settings, the regulator, government, and with students themselves. Pre-existing trusting relationships and collaborative systems supported rapid responses. Effective digital learning requires a pro-active, student-centred approach, and addressing the problems of inequitable access to equipment and space. Joint problem-solving and focussing on the key outcomes that matter contribute to developing successful strategies and robust processes. The pandemic provides an opportunity for student midwives to be re-imagined as essential members of midwifery teams and not ‘just students’. Transformative actions identified include whole-system working, tackling longstanding problems including racism, poverty, prejudice, and systemic discrimination, and keeping students at the heart of the education system.


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Cite as

Renfrew, M., Bradshaw, G., Burnett, A., Byrom, A., Entwistle, F., King, K., Olayiwola, W. & Thomas, G. 2021, 'Sustaining quality education and practice learning in a pandemic and beyond: ‘I have never learnt as much in my life, as quickly, ever’', Midwifery, 94, article no: 102915. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2020.102915

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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