Perinatal nursing education for single-room maternity care: an evaluation of a competency-based model


  • Patricia A Janssen PhD,

  • Lois Keen MED, RN,

  • Jetty Soolsma MA, CNM,

  • Laurie C Seymour BSN,

  • Susan J Harris MD,

  • Michael C Klein MD,

  • Birgit Reime DScMPH

Patricia A Janssen
University of British Columbia
Department of Health Care and Epidemiology
5804 Fairview Ave
Vancouver, BC V6T-1Z3
Telephone: 1 604 806 9119


Aims and objectives.  To evaluate the success of a competency-based nursing orientation programme for a single-room maternity care unit by measuring improvement in self-reported competency after six months.

Background.  Single-room maternity care has challenged obstetrical nurses to provide comprehensive nursing care during all phases of the in-hospital birth experience. In this model, nurses provide intrapartum, postpartum and newborn care in one room. To date, an evaluation of nursing education for single-room maternity care has not been published.

Design.  A prospective cohort design comparing self-reported competencies prior to starting work in the single-room maternity care and six months after.

Methods.  Nurses completed a competency-based education programme in which they could select from a menu of learning methods and content areas according to their individual needs. Learning methods included classroom lectures, self-paced learning packages, and preceptorships in the clinical area. Competencies were measured by a standardized perinatal self-efficacy tool and a tool developed by the authors for this study, the Single-Room Maternity Care Competency Tool. A paired analysis was undertaken to take into account the paired (before and after) nature of the design.

Results.  Scores on the perinatal self-efficacy scale and the single-room maternity care competency tool were improved. These differences were statistically significant.

Conclusions.  Improvements in perinatal and single-room maternity care-specific competencies suggest that our education programme was successful in preparing nurses for their new role in the single-room maternity care setting. This conclusion is supported by reported increases in nursing and patient satisfaction in the single-room maternity care compared with the traditional labour/delivery and postpartum settings.

Relevance to clinical practice.  An education programme tailored to the learning needs of experienced clinical nurses contributes to improvements in nursing competencies and patient care.