A mix of health, social, and biological sciences, the curriculum combines academic studies with clinical and interprofessional placements affording extensive clinical experience working with midwives and their clients. The Bachelor of Health Sciences in Midwifery degree can be completed in four to six years at Ryerson. Midwifery allows you to enroll part-time in the non-clinical courses - which comprise the first three semesters - but requires a full-time commitment for the clinical placements in the final six semesters.
You will attend a minimum of 60 births, acting as primary caregiver for at least 40 births in home and hospital settings. During your studies, you will also participate in providing prenatal and postpartum care in midwifery clinics and women's homes. Like the profession, the program is very demanding and equally rewarding.
In classes usually no larger than 35 students, the academic courses will provide you with a strong foundation in the health and social sciences. Required courses include a foundation in anatomy and physiology, pharmacotherapy, biochemistry and reproductive physiology. You will also be introduced to the principles of clinical research and develop an understanding of how to evaluate the results of research studies.
Since the social and cultural contexts in which mothers and families are situated affect the care they require, you will examine issues such as violence in the home, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status and sexual orientation. Issues such as women's roles in society, public policy relating to women, and the organization of health care are studied in order to understand midwifery in the context of Canadian society. In addition, you will be introduced to professionally-related topics such as the history and current regulatory context of midwifery nationally and internationally.
You spend six terms in full-time placements, four in midwifery clinical placements and two in interprofessional placements. You will be responsible for providing your own transportation to clinical and community sites and to clients' homes. You will be required to have a computer in order to access course outlines, conduct literature searches, and receive program communication.
Midwifery Clinical Placements
The four clinical placements are an opportunity for you to work in a midwifery clinical setting, providing care under the supervision of a midwife for women throughout pregnancy, labour and birth, and for women and their babies during the six weeks postpartum. You will be on 24 hour call during these placements and will require the use of a car to be able to attend births in hospitals and women's homes. The majority of students are able to be placed in the geographic region of their choice, but there is a possibility that you may need to relocate for some placements.
The clinical placement courses require full-time participation, and it is not possible to maintain employment while enrolled in clinical courses.
In the clinical courses you will be introduced to a variety of clinical skills and supported to develop competence in an increasingly complex range of clinical and counseling skills as a primary health care provider. Many of the clinical courses are augmented by university based intensives, lasting from three to seven days. Intensives provide opportunities for concentrated introduction to specific areas of skill and knowledge prior to entering the clinical placement.
Beginning in your first placement, you will be conducting prenatal visits, taking medical histories and conducting physical exams of women and babies, including collecting blood and other lab specimens. You will be involved in providing care to women in labour and participating in hands-on care including conducting deliveries with assistance. You will be taught to provide information and advice to women on a range of clinical and counseling topics, and will be given increasing responsibility with each clinical term. You will be expected to demonstrate increasing competence in clinical and communication skills, clinical judgment, and professional behaviour. By your final clinical placement, referred to as the clerkship, you are able to function independently, providing comprehensive midwifery care.
The first three clinical placement courses also include weekly small group tutorial sessions in which you will focus on the acquisition of academic knowledge relevant to midwifery and obstetrical topics. Course work includes review of relevant research literature, presentations, academic papers, group discussions and written exams. Students placed in clinical placements outside of Toronto will attend tutorials by distance modalities or at McMaster or Laurentian universities, depending on where you are located. In the clerkship, tutorials are replaced with opportunities for presentation of cases, in addition to mid-term and final written exams.
Interprofessional Placements I and II
These two courses consist of a series of three to four-week placements over a 6 month period. Mandatory placements include a hospital labour and delivery setting, an obstetric practice, and an NICU. For the remaining placements, you may choose a setting relating to maternity care, women's and /or infant health issues, a rural or remote setting or an urban setting to compliment previous clinical placements as well as an elective placement. You will develop your own objectives for the placements of your choosing, based on your learning needs and the opportunities available. The elective placement is an ideal opportunity to explore issues in maternal/infant health in other provinces or in an international setting. Some students focus on maternity care or other related fields in such settings as a women's shelter, planned parenthood or healthy sexuality clinic, breastfeeding clinic, or neonatal intensive care unit.
The hospital placement is under the supervision of a labour and delivery nurse. You will be provided an opportunity to increase your clinical skills in addition to developing an enhanced understanding of the role and function of members of the maternity care team. The obstetric placement is under the supervision of an obstetrician. You will be able to participate in the assessment and treatment of women with obstetric complications and will work in a variety of settings which may include office visits, hospital rounds, on-call shifts in the hospital, inpatient and outpatient obstetrical and gynaecological clinics and surgeries.