International midwifery electives

As awareness of global health increases, many midwifery students are keen to take their university electives in a developing country. Working in this contrasting environment can build your knowledge and skills base while challenging your perceptions of midwifery – a great way for you to develop both personally and professionally. However, it is important to plan your elective well to make sure that both you and the country you are visiting benefit from your placement.

The RCM has developed an i-learn module to guide you through the process of planning and preparing for your international midwifery elective. The module includes:

  • activities to clarify your motivations for undertaking an international elective
  • preparation for the cultural, emotional and professional challenges you may face
  • opportunities to reflect on your personal development before and after your elective
  • advice on planning and resourcing your elective
  • links to our i-folio platform so you can create a body of evidence of your development through your elective

There are also two other Global Midwifery i-learn modules to explore:

Visit the Global / Overseas section to find these modules.

Find out more about insurance arrangements for volunteering or consultancy overseas.

International Confederation of Midwives

The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) supports, represents and works to strengthen professional associations of midwives throughout the world. There are currently 132 midwives' associations, representing 113 countries across every continent. Together these associations represent more than 400,000 midwives globally.

The ICM promotes the concept of ‘twinning’ as a way to strengthen midwives’ associations. The Global Midwifery Twinning Project used this concept to guide the formation of twinning relationships between the four UK RCM countries and midwives’ associations in Uganda, Cambodia and Nepal. The ICM has authored a twinning manual to guide new and existing twinning relationships between midwives’ associations.

Resources collected by the RCM's Global Team

The RCM Global Team is collecting a range of reports and academic papers, practical tools, presentations and resources from global midwifery events to support our members in their learning about this subject. Browse our growing library below.

Working Internationally 2017

The publication, Working Internationally: A guide to humanitarian and development work for nurses and midwives provides advice for nurses and midwives who want to work internationally, both in sustainable development and humanitarian programmes. It has been developed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), VSO and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The Lancet Series

The Lancet Series on Midwifery was a landmark series of publications dedicated to providing the ‘evidence for midwifery as a vital solution to the challenges of providing high quality maternal and newborn care for all women and babies in all countries’.

The Lottery of Birth 2015

The Lottery of Birth 2015 report from Save the Children UK examines the impact of unequal development on children’s chance of survival. The report demonstrates that inequitable progress can be reduced and makes the case for putting disadvantaged groups first to achieve progress on child mortality for all.

State of the World’s Midwifery 2014

The State of the World’s Midwifery 2014 presents findings on midwifery from 73 low and middle-income countries’. The report shows the current state of midwifery in the featured countries and what percentages are sexual and reproductive, how maternal and newborn health needs are currently being met and how these figures could dramatically improve with an increased focus on midwifery.

Health Education England

Health Education England have developed the Toolkit for the collection of evidence of knowledge and skills gained through participation in an international health project, in order to facilitate the evidencing of the reciprocal benefits for individual UK health workers.

The toolkit captures areas such as ‘project management’ and ‘developing leadership skills’ to help clarify volunteers' understanding of their experiences and identify learning. The tool also provides evidence appropriate for inclusion in Continuing Professional Development appraisals, personal development reviews and revalidation.

The World Health Organisation’s Every Newborn Action Plan

The World Health Organisation (WHO) have developed Every Newborn: An Action Plan to End Preventable Deaths, which envisions a world where 'there are no preventable deaths of newborns or stillbirths, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is celebrated, and women, babies and children survive, thrive and reach their full potential'. Their Every Newborn Toolkit provides resources and analytical tools to help support advocacy and involvement.

Every Newborn Progress Report

The Every Newborn 2018 annual report, Reaching Every Newborn National 2020 Milestones, provides an up-to-date account of country progress reported by the 75 countries and territories who use the Every Newborn Tracking Tool. The report provides an in-depth look at progress towards the eight Every Newborn Milestones, identifying common areas of progress and challenges. The results show overall improvement across all national milestones, demonstrating country-level commitment to achieving the milestones in the Every Newborn Action Plan.

The World Health Organisation ‘Strengthening Midwifery Toolkit’

The Strengthening Midwifery Toolkit focuses specifically on ‘strengthening the central role and function of the professional midwife in the provision of quality care during pregnancy and childbirth and in other reproductive and sexual health services’. It includes nine modules on topics such as ‘developing standards to improve midwifery practice’ and ‘developing effective programs for preparing midwife teachers’.

MHTF – PLOS Collection on Maternal Health

PLOS (Public Library of Science) is a non-profit publisher and advocacy organisation. The PLOS Collections collate content from across the PLOS journals.

Since 2011, the collaboration between the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) at Harvard School of Public Health and PLOS Medicine has created a freely available open-access collection of research and commentary on maternal health. The three yearly collections bring together policy forums and research articles. The Year 1 theme was ‘quality of maternal health care’, Year 2 was ‘maternal health is women’s health’, and Year 3 ‘integrating health care to meet the needs of the mother-infant pair’.

Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) Resources

The Maternal Health Task Force from the Harvard School of Public Health works to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide. The Global Maternal Health News feed compiles recent updates from journals, news outlets and global health websites. The Statistics Resources page provides a variety of sources for maternal health related statistics. The e-Learning Courses page collates a range of e-learning tools relating to maternal health, including family planning, managing postpartum haemorrhage and danger signs in pregnancy.

The Global Health e-Learning Center

The Global Health e-Learning Center (GHeL) was developed by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) to provide worldwide health workers with access to global health information. GHeL provides free e-learning courses on topics such as antenatal care, cervical cancer prevention and family planning counselling, and certificates on topics such as child survival, family planning and reproductive health, and gender and health.

Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality

The World Health Organisation Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality provides a strategic framework for policy and programme planning to achieve Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) targets. The report sets targets for MMR reduction at a global and country level and elaborates on the five strategic objectives to guide programme planning for ending preventable maternal mortality.

The Global Library of Women’s Medicine

The Global Library or Women’s Medicine and Healthcare is the educational platform for the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). The library contains expert chapters on issues in women’s medicine, textbooks, film tutorials and skills for safer motherhood, masterclass lectures and resources around women’s rights, health and empowerment.