An exploration of Midwifery Student’s opinions and experiences of the Nursing & Midwifery Council’s Professional Good Character whilst off-duty

Perry, Vivien (2023) An exploration of Midwifery Student’s opinions and experiences of the Nursing & Midwifery Council’s Professional Good Character whilst off-duty. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Midwifery students are required to demonstrate the NMC requirement of good character (GC), this applies to all aspects of their life. However, it has been suggested that healthcare students are not aware of their responsibilities beyond the university and clinical areas.
There is limited research regarding what GC consists of when off-duty or how students experience learning and implementing this into their life. There is also limited research relating to social and cultural influences on their experiences or opinions relating to the requirement to always demonstrate GC.
Aim: To explore midwifery students’ opinions and experiences of the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s expectations of professional good character whilst off-duty.
Methods: 124 UK midwifery students completed an online survey. Additionally, 10 semi- structured interviews were undertaken with undergraduate midwifery students, from one university.
Data analysis: Survey data was analysed by producing descriptive statistics of rating scales using Microsoft Excel. Open-question responses were analysed by hand. Thematic analysis was utilised for examining the interview transcripts (Green et al, 2007). Themes developed via the use of in-vivo codes, and the creation of categories to produce themes which reflected an overarching picture of the phenomena.
Findings: Students described core values and attributes they considered demonstrated GC whilst off-duty. Students suggested they learnt about these from family, friends, and society. Students also identified the concept was subjective and nuanced, because of the wide diversity of people and conduct associated with the concept of GC. Students felt they should demonstrate GC because midwifery was more than just a job. However, they perceived higher standards of GC were expected of them. Some students expressed it was a challenging concept to implement GC when off-duty. Therefore, they identified ways they had learnt to manage it, as they transitioned to becoming a professional.
Conclusions: There was a multitude of experiences and opinions relating to the requirement to demonstrate GC whilst off-duty. Students suggested GC was still utilised to manage who is allowed to enter the profession and to socialise them into the profession’s values and behaviours, resulting in a reproduction of the profession’s cultural and social capital. The process of socialisation resulted in the mortification of self and habitus clivè for some students, whereas others did not perceive this was an issue as their personal and private lives were separate entities. This socialisation and potential social mobility came with positive and negative challenges for some students and the profession. Reproduction can result in loyalty and allegiance to the profession which may result in moral disengagement to raise concerns about the culture and care provided by colleagues. However, students recognised they were role models for the profession when off-duty and felt they could be a force for good, but this was also fraught with challenges concerning free speech and personal choices.
Implications: Greater clarity regarding what GC consists of when off-duty would be beneficial for the profession, students, and educators. Wider professional discussions regarding freedom of speech and diversity of the profession are also needed, with safe spaces for students to explore these issues. The profession needs to recognise that GC can be used in a discriminatory manner to control entry to the profession and should challenge any unconscious biases they may have regarding what constitutes GC whilst off-duty.
Additionally, some students may require more support to implement GC into their off-duty life and strategies may be required to aid them. Socialisation into the profession can result in allegiance and loyalty that may result in moral disengagement when witnessing poor behaviours, curriculums need to incorporate content on moral integrity and ensure students are not penalised for raising concerns. Further research regarding off-duty expectations of healthcare professionals is required.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Phenomenology, Bourdieu, personal life, Behaviour, fitness to practice
Subjects: B700 Nursing
B900 Others in Subjects allied to Medicine
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Nursing, Midwifery and Health
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2023 09:47
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2023 10:00

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