A debate that has been going on for years within nursing schools is whether or not nursing students should attend real births during their obstetric rotation. Some argue in favor of the birth experience, while others argue that obstetric skills can be learned in the classroom and the physical birth is not necessary.
Of course logistics play a factor in setting up experiences for nursing students. Time, facilities, and babies willing to be born during scheduled clinical hours all play a role. Some male nursing students have encountered women declining to allow them into the room and some students have had few or no births during their rotation. This is all part of the unexpectedness of the field of labor and delivery.
Those in favor of simulators argue that birth can be taught by practicing with a mannequin, while others argue that there is no way to bring the human experience without being beside a laboring woman.
I would argue that the art of being with women during labor and birth is akin to learning how to be with patients as they die. It is a part of the compassion and stillness that is ingrained in the profession of nursing. Aside from these quiet skills, attending a birth is a life event that all future nurses should experience. It has been a tradition within nursing schools throughout history and should continue in practice today.
Some argue that since nursing students are not expected to be proficient in the field of labor and delivery, that this is an unnecessary clinical experience. Labor and delivery is considered a specialty field and therefore considered something that student nurses need not master in order to graduate.
Do you think that experiencing a birth is an important part of nursing education? Do you think the obstetric clinical is worth having, or should it be replaced with a different clinical setting? What are your thoughts?