Determining learner nurses' perceived levels of competence and willingness to practise in a maternity unity at a university in the Western Cape Province
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Midwifery is a health profession where a qualified midwife provides care to a woman during her pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. Apart from taking care of the mother, the midwife is expected to take care of the new-born baby as well until the health of mother and baby is in a satisfactory condition which will allow them to be discharged from the midwife’s care. The purpose of the study was to determine the perceived levels of competence and willingness of learner nurses to practise in a maternity unit after completion of the midwifery component of the undergraduate curriculum at a university in the Western Cape. The current study provides nursing institutions with an opportunity to review the content of the midwifery curriculum in order to prepare learner nurses adequately to practise after graduation and, thus, facilitate the provision of improved maternal care and childcare. A descriptive research design was used to determine the perceived levels of competence and willingness to practise in a maternity unit of final-year undergraduate learner nurses. Pretesting was conducted prior to the collection of data to measure the reliability and validity of the adapted, structured questionnaire. All-inclusive sampling (n=247) was used, which included all learner nurses registered as 4th year undergraduate learner nurses at this institution during the time of data collection. Data was collected by means of an adapted questionnaire which included closed-ended questions and one open-ended question. Three themes were identified: Positive views; Negative views; and Competences in midwifery practice areas. The collected data was cleaned, and entered into and analysed using SPSS v24. The Cronbach’s alpha score calculated for the competence levels of respondents were 0.82%, while the section on willingness to practise scored 0.95%. The findings of the study revealed that learner nurses perceive themselves competent while performing basic obstetric procedures in low-risks areas. However, the learner nurses perceive themselves to have low competence levels when they have to perform more complicated obstetric procedures. The results also show that learner nurses need more time in high-risk areas to increase their perceived competence levels. Furthermore, the results show that learner nurses are very willing to perform these procedures once they are qualified midwives.