Orientation & Ongoing Professional Development


When a new worker joins the practice, consider what they will need to know to succeed. The orientation needs will be different for each worker based on their experience and the role in which they are joining the practice group, but new registrants, locums, employees, new partners, and students will all need some assistance to integrate into the practice. Practices may wish to develop an orientation protocol (see AOM template on the protocol page under "Human Resources"​) or checklist to ensure that nothing is missed.

Practice protocols are a useful orientation tool as they help guide new members. They set a clear guideline on a variety of issues that affect the practice. This ensures a common source of information and acts as a reference for future needs. Some workers don’t directly ask for the information they need, but having a well-developed set of protocols that can be accessed by the practice group keeps workers informed. Practice protocols are a form of good communication and a practice that has a culture of clear and open communication has more satisfied practice members.

For midwives, integration extends to involving them in the non-clinical work of the practice. Taking on some non-clinical responsibilities can help the new member feel a part of the group.

Orientation for all workers typically includes:

  • Introductions to all workers
  • Practice policies and protocols
  • Practice systems (e.g., expenses, ordering supplies, chart storage, appointment booking, messages, billing, library, cleaning procedures)
  • How and when they will be paid
  • Community resources
  • Characteristics of the community
  • Dispute resolution and communication expectations
  • Privacy obligations
  • Health and safety

Orientation for midwives also includes:

  • Community standards of practice
  • Obtaining hospital/birth centre privileges
  • Introductions to hospital staff and doctors
  • Birth centre/hospital policies and procedures
  • Geography of the services area
  • Call schedules, vacation and emergency coverage
  • Birth centre/hospital orientation

Integrating workers does not to end with the initial orientation. For example, some practices may gradually integrate new midwives into clinical work by having them attend clinic before births, attending their first few births at home and/or hospital with an identified mentor midwife, or seeking additional support when first managing oxytocin or epidurals. Practices could consider scheduling regular meetings between each new midwife and their identified mentor to allow opportunities to review care plans and charting.

Some practice groups have reported tension in their hospital relationships caused by newer midwives consulting physicians more frequently than experienced midwives may have consulted. One solution that some practice groups have adopted is an expectation that midwives will speak with another midwife before consulting with a physician.

A review interview held at specified intervals, such as after the first three and/or six months at the practice, also provides an opportunity to further assist the integration of the new member. Integration is often more intensive for new registrants. Appoint mentors to assist in the new midwife’s integration into the practice.

Ongoing Professional Development

Training and professional development have a couple of key benefits for both the worker and the practice itself. Most workers enjoy and derive satisfaction from keeping skills current and learning new ones. A practice that encourages learning opportunities (whether within the practice itself or through external courses, conferences, workshops and seminars) signals to its workers that it cares about their professional development. It is a positive perk and an attractive feature of the practice (which can also be used as a recruiting tool).

Having workers participate in training opportunities also helps the practice to continue growing and meeting its needs effectively (needs identified in any human resource planning that has taken place). It means that skill gaps are lessened or eliminated. Training and development help the practice achieve its goals.

Practices can commit to training and professional development by providing off-call time for midwives to attend educational events without using their vacation time, by budgeting for employees or midwives to attend conferences and courses, and by engaging in peer or team learning at practice meetings.