Study and teaching

From the SkillsLab to the delivery room

Midwifery students learn for their future profession using simulation models

Three midwifery students stand around the birth simulator and simulate a birth.

Midwifery students simulate a birth on a birth simulator.

 "Here we can lend a hand, palpate the abdomen and listen to how the fetus is doing with a Pinard sthetoscope," says Lia Grünwald, describing what she does. She stands in the SkillsLab for midwives in front of a birth model that simulates a pregnant belly and carefully feels the abdominal wall. Lia Grünwald is in her third year of studying midwifery at Hannover Medical School (MHH), making her one of the first students after midwifery training was converted to an academic course throughout Germany. The first of a total of 86 students are now about to take their state examinations and will complete their studies in March next year. In order to give interested parties an insight into their studies and their practical preparation for the midwifery profession, the graduating class, together with module leader Kerstin Schulze and those responsible for the course, invited students to an open day shortly before International Midwifery Day.

In the dual study program, theoretical and practical learning weeks alternate so that what has been learned can first be practiced in the SkillsLab and then applied in the respective clinic. In addition to the MHH Women's Clinic, practice partners include the hospitals Diakovere Henriettenstift and Friederikenstift, the Vinzenzkrankenhaus Hannover, the KRH clinics in Gehrden, Großburgwedel and Neustadt, the Celle General Hospital, the Municipal Hospital in Braunschweig and the Helios Clinic in Hildesheim. "The program is still in its infancy and is constantly being developed. It is amazing what we have already achieved in the first three years to prepare students well for their careers, both theoretically and practically. This is particularly evident here in the SkillsLab, which has been available to us for two years," says Professor Dr. Mechthild Groß, Head of the Midwifery Research and Teaching Unit at the MHH, looking back with satisfaction on the development of the new course.

Since the end of 2022, trainee midwives have benefited from modern training rooms in the SkillsLab.

Here, trainee midwives can learn and practise the most important skills for their future profession on simulation models under supervision and in a protected learning atmosphere. There is a fully equipped delivery room, a room for the care of newborns, pregnant women and mothers in the puerperium as well as a multifunctional room. "We are very grateful that we have this opportunity here and feel that the practical exercises in the SkillsLab prepare us well for the practical assignments in our studies," explains Lia Grünwald. Together with her fellow students, she guided the visitors through the practice rooms of the Skills Lab and explained to them what they could practise here using the various models and learning situations. For example, student Zoë Searle (24) took a thin tube in her hand and inserted it into the opening of an abdominal model using a small probe. An orange lies concealed in it, simulating the fetal head and intended to give the student the feeling of attaching a cephalic electrode to the head of a fetus. "This allows us to record the baby's heartbeat if an external lead doesn't work," she explains. Zoë Searle is glad that she can practise here in peace and quiet before she has to use it in practice for the first time. "It's very useful and gives me the confidence I need for practical work because I know what to look out for," she says confidently.

Of course, the trainee midwives also practise giving birth - in a very vivid and graphic way.

A birth simulator lies on a normal delivery room bed, from which a baby is born with the right hand movements, and then the placenta is also delivered. The students repeatedly slip into different roles in the SkillsLab, sometimes they are the midwife, then the missing hand to simulate the expectant mother's counterpressure or to assist the midwife, and sometimes the pregnant woman who is in pain or simply wants advice. In two of the five rooms, the smell of paint is still very fresh; the SkillsLab is currently being expanded so that there will be enough rooms for all students to practice in from October, when the fourth year starts. This includes a room in which upright birthing methods such as the birthing stool can be used.

Details on the dual study course in Midwifery Science at Hannover Medical School (MHH) are available on the Internet.

Text: Bettina Dunker