Midwifery students' expectations of and experiences with ethics education: A qualitative study

M. Megregian*, L.K. Low, C. Emeis, R. de Vries, M. Nieuwenhuijze

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Instruction in ethics is an essential component of midwifery education. However, the evidence for how midwifery students experience ethics instruction in the classroom and via clinical experience is limited. Objective: This study explores midwifery students' perceptions of ethics education and their opinions about essential components of ethics education. Design: This was a qualitative descriptive thematic study, exploring student midwives' experiences of ethics education in their midwifery programs. We conducted focus group interviews with students from three midwifery programs in the United States (U.S.). Setting: Graduate midwifery educational programs in the United States. Participants: Thirty-nine students from three graduate midwifery programs participated in four focus group discussions. Results: Thematic analysis identified three primary themes and associated subthemes: 1) current experience and identified needs, 2) the preceptor dilemma, with subthemes the critical role of modeling ethics and powerlessness within interprofessional conflicts, and 3) complicated relationships: advocacy, autonomy and choice. Students relied primarily upon clinical preceptors rather than classroom discussion as a significant source of learning ethics content and ethical behavior. Students called for explicit identification of ethics learning when it occurs, particularly midwifery-specific content, as well as increased opportunities for reflection and integration of their experiences. Conclusion: This study shows the need for intentional inclusion of midwifery-specific ethics content into the overall midwifery education program content, in both classroom and clinical experiences. Midwifery programs should integrate ethics content in their curricula in a way that complements other midwifery content. This study also demonstrates the key role of clinical preceptors in student ethics learning.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105035
Number of pages6
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • Ethics
  • Midwifery education
  • Midwifery
  • Shared decision-making
  • Autonomy
  • Role modeling


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