A new approach to retention: following the professional journey of midwives in Canada

Principal Investigators: Derek Lobb, Isik Zeytinoglu

Co-Investigators: Farimah HakemZadeh, Elena Neiterman

CIHR Operating Grant Awarded: $343, 557 (5 years)

Midwifery as a regulated, licensed profession, is a new addition to our health care system. It has proven to bring many benefits to women and their newborns and is much less costly than physician provided maternity care. At the same time there has been a significant reduction in the number of doctors providing maternity services, so we are facing a significant shortfall in women's health care delivery in Canada. Midwifery is part of the solution to address this critical gap. The number of births in Canada continues to grow, but the numbers of trained maternity health care providers, especially midwives are not keeping up. This is due in large part to an alarmingly high attrition rate among midwifery trainees (close to 25%) and working midwives (20% in some provinces). Retention of health care professionals is critical for Canadian policy makers and governments. To make the changes that will retain workers and sustain our health care system requires the type of research we propose in this grant. The goal of this research proposal is to examine the workforce trends of Canadian midwives in order to improve retention. We need to understand the workplace experiences of Canadian midwives from their initiation to the profession in university, up to and including 10+ years in actual practice. Our study will be a pan-Canadian on-going survey following the students at the seven national midwifery schools as well as all practicing midwives at important steps in their careers. It will allow us to understand how different stages impact the available workforce and to understand how these women maintain their work-life balance while managing their career and personal life. Our research will recommend policy changes that will ultimately increase the number of working midwives and provide improved maternity care to Canadian women. 

Health Canadacihr logo1This initiative has been generously funded by grants from Health Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the funders.