Simulation-Based Learning for Midwives: Background and Pilot Implementation


  • Anthony Lathrop CNM, MSN,

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    • Anthony Lathrop, CNM, MSN, is a doctoral candidate at Marquette University. He is in clinical practice with Clarian HealthNet in Indianapolis, IN.

  • Barbara Winningham CNM, MSN,

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    • Barbara Winningham, CNM, MSN, is the director of the nurse-midwifery education program at University of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, IN. She is chair of the ACNM Indiana chapter.

  • Leona VandeVusse CNM, PhD

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    • Leona VandeVusse, CNM, PhD, FACNM, is the director of the nurse-midwifery education program at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI.


Simulation-based learning is an emerging learning modality with promising potential for certified nurse-midwife (CNM) and certified midwife (CM) education. Unlike standard didactic methods, simulation-based learning affords opportunities to address multiple domains of learning and performance. Unlike standard clinical education, simulation-based learning provides learners exposure to events that are rare in the clinical setting, and allows learners to assume leadership roles in emergencies. Simulation-based learning is consistent with constructivist learning principles, which promote retention, understanding, and active use of skills. A simulation-based shoulder dystocia learning module was implemented on a pilot basis in a class of four student nurse-midwives. Student nurse-midwives self-assessed their preparedness to manage a shoulder dystocia in the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains before and after the simulation-based learning exercise. Feedback from student evaluations was promising. Although the small sample precluded statistical analysis, student self-assessment scores appeared to be higher after the simulation-based learning exercise. Open-ended student feedback was unanimous that simulation-based learning should be incorporated into the curriculum. Further implementation and evaluation of simulation-based learning in CNM and CM education is warranted.