Curricular Quality Improvement in Midwifery: Simulating Unexpected Perinatal Loss

Susan D. Altman, Charles P. Tilley, Rebecca Feldman, Mary Brennan, Dorothy Wholihan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Caring for families experiencing perinatal loss is a fundamental component of midwifery practice, but little attention is paid to perinatal palliative care in midwifery curricula. Lack of educational preparation and self-care resources negatively impacts midwifery students and health care teams caring for families experiencing stillbirth. Process: A private, urban university conducted a curricular quality improvement project to integrate perinatal palliative care into the midwifery curriculum using a high-fidelity, branching simulation pedagogy. Simulation objectives were developed from curricular gap analyses and the Core Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice. Development of the Unexpected Perinatal Loss Simulation was guided by the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning Outcomes and Objectives and Design Standards. The Unexpected Perinatal Loss Simulation was revised based on qualitative data from student focus groups and expert content validation. Outcomes: Qualitative data yielded 4 key domains: presimulation, simulation skills, prior experience/personal reflections, and recommendations. Simulation procedures and scenario content were revised, after which 8 expert clinicians in the fields of midwifery, palliative care, and psychiatry validated the scenario content using the Lynn method. Two items did not meet the content validity index (CVI) threshold of 0.78, necessitating review by stakeholders; however, the overall scenario CVI threshold was met (0.82). Discussion: Through this project, faculty integrated perinatal palliative care into the midwifery program using a novel approach of high-fidelity, branching simulation, structured debriefing, and an introductory self-care skills workshop. Potential clinical impact includes skillful perinatal palliative care with effective communication skills to mitigate how families experience and remember a traumatic loss and facilitate the grieving process. Students voiced insights into how they would process loss and seek support to mitigate their own grief as future midwives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-530
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Midwifery and Women's Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • intrapartum care
  • midwifery education
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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