Ceremonial opening of the study programme and welcoming of the new professor Dr. Julia Leinweber
Berlin, 25.11.2021 – The new Bachelor’s programme in Applied Midwifery Science at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin started in the winter semester of 2021/22. Students learn everything about pregnancy, birth, the postpartum period and breastfeeding and qualify for evidence- and science-based midwifery work. The course of studies will be opened today at the Charité in a ceremony broadcast online. In addition, the Charité welcomes its new Professor of Midwifery Science, Dr Julia Leinweber, who will be in charge of the new degree programme.
In mid-October, 64 students began their Bachelor’s degree in Applied Midwifery Science at the Charité for the first time. Over a total of seven semesters, they would acquire professional and personal skills to be able to pursue a science-guided, holistic and independent midwifery activity in the inpatient or outpatient sector. With the Bachelor of Science degree, they also receive their professional licence as a midwife.
Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Chairman of the Board of the Charité stressed that: “With this winter semester, the Charité has begun to qualify the personnel necessary for Berlin for the inpatient and outpatient areas of midwifery care at university level. In this way, we are helping to counter the bottleneck in midwifery care. Our partner Vivantes is involved in the design of the study programme and, together with the Charité, provides the practice places for the students. This close cooperation is part of our strategy and contributes to the goals of Health City 2030.”
Prof. Dr. Axel Radlach Pries, Dean of Charité: “With the new dual degree programme in Applied Midwifery Science, Charité is making its contribution to the academisation of the midwifery profession. This is an important step towards meeting the complex demands of accompanying pregnant women and their families. Our students will benefit in particular from innovative forms and content of learning as well as the interdisciplinary expertise at Charité. This will enable them to later help shape the midwifery of the future in a diverse and science-based way.” He adds: “In addition, I would like to warmly welcome all students of Applied Midwifery Science to the Charité today and especially welcome our Professor of Midwifery Science Dr. Julia Leinweber, who heads the programme.”
The Applied Midwifery Science degree programme is particularly comprehensive: explaining physical changes during pregnancy, providing needs-oriented care to those giving birth, assessing vital functions of new-borns or recognising illnesses in the postpartum period. In various modules, students learn, among other things, how to accompany women and their families through physiological processes during pregnancy and birth, the postpartum period and breastfeeding, and how to promote these processes in an evidence-based manner. Identifying risks and special features in women and babies, acting safely in critical situations and consulting the expertise of doctors when necessary are also learning objectives. In addition, students should develop empathic communication skills and learn to always consider the individual life situations of women in their future work.
Scientific work plays an important role in the study programme. Six modules are planned for this, so that the midwives-to-be can later plan, control and design complex care processes based on science – also taking into account economic efficiency, quality and legal framework conditions. The students should be able to open up the research field of midwifery science and the related reference sciences and thus be able to develop research-based approaches to solutions.
“The profession of midwifery has been academised. This means that it is now no longer a classic apprenticeship profession, but a primary qualifying degree is required to become a midwife,” explains Prof. Dr. Julia Leinweber. The new professor of midwifery science at the Charité and head of the study programme affirms: “And that is a good thing. Because I am convinced that the academisation of the midwifery profession contributes to further professionalising this so important activity. Thus, one of our goals is to lead students to critically reflect on midwifery practice based on scientific criteria.”
The dual study programme is characterised by an alternation of theoretical and practical learning. The theoretical parts – such as lectures on anatomy and physiology – are offered at the teaching and learning sites of the Charité. The practical study phases – for example in the delivery room or in neonatology – take place in the practical facilities of Charité and Vivantes and their academic practice sites as well as with cooperating midwives in private practice and in midwife-led birth centres and facilities.
About Prof. Dr. Julia Leinweber
Prof. Leinweber has been at the Charité since 1 September 2021. Her research focuses on women’s birth experience and respectful obstetrics. For example, she is investigating the question of how women who have experienced sexual violence in the past can experience a positive birth. Together with her team, she wants to implement and evaluate concepts for trauma-sensitive care during pregnancy and birth at the Charité. In another research project, Prof. Leinweber is investigating the empathy capacity of students of health professions and how this can be increased.
After completing her midwifery training in Kiel in 2000, Julia Leinweber practised as an employed and freelance midwife in various German cities. At the same time she completed her bachelor’s degree in midwifery as a distance learning student at Glasgow Caledonian University. She also qualified as a breastfeeding and lactation consultant. In 2006, Julia Leinweber went to Australia to study Public Health with a specialisation in Women’s Health at the University of Melbourne. Since 2010, she has taught in bachelor’s and master’s degree programmes in nursing and midwifery at Sunshine Coast University and Griffith University. In parallel, she was active in Australia as a lactation consultant and midwife. Julia Leinweber completed her PhD on post-traumatic stress in midwives at Griffith University in 2016. She was subsequently appointed professor of midwifery at the Evangelische Hochschule Berlin, where she most recently worked. Since 2015, she has also been a lecturer in the European Master’s programme in Midwifery Science at the Hannover Medical School.