Exploration of the perceived clinical competencies of newly qualified midwives working in hospitals at eThekwini Municipality.
The reduction of the maternal mortality rate is part of the priority agenda of governments in Africa, including South Africa. Research shows that a large portion of maternal deaths are preventable because they are largely due to lack of inappropriately prepared staff. In South Africa, outcome studies on the quality of comprehensive prepared nursing graduates reflect some concerns regarding their levels of competence. These studies, however, are general; they did not directly target the competence of these graduates in their midwifery practice, therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore and describe the perceived level of competence of newly qualified-midwives functioning in midwifery units. Based on the positivist paradigm, an exploratory descriptive design, using a quantitative approach, was adopted in this study. Two structured questionnaires were used to collect data: one for the newly-qualified midwives and one for the supervisors. A total of 48 newly-qualified midwives and 26 supervisors from five hospitals at eThekwini District participated in this study. Ethics principles and other considerations were observed throughout the study. Data were analyzed statistically using a computer Software Package (SPSS, version 15.0) and a variety of statistical tests were carried out. . From the findings there was a positive congruence between graduates and their supervisors' ratings of the newly-qualified midwives clinical competencies. There were, however, significant differences in a few skills with graduates tending to rate themselves higher than did their supervisors. On the whole though one can conclude that although VI the findings in this study are not conclusive, compared to the previous studies in this area, there is an improvement in the level of competence of newly-qualified midwives. The improvement was noted in their level of competence in midwifery clinical practice, clinical teaching, management and research. The findine;s, however, revealed some areas that need special attention in the theory and clinical preparation of midwives. Recommendations included reviewing the curriculum and strengthening the research component. In midwifery clinical practice there needs to be more attention paid to neonatal care skills, problem solving and record keeping. Further research is also recommended.