Rio: A Social Platform for Professional Midwife Education
Mothers around the world experience preventable medical complications during labor and delivery that can lead to maternal and newborn mortality. This lack of quality care has more connection to maternal mortality than lack of access to health services itself, and it is shown that the most effective way to improve care is through training and continuous education of the midwife, the primary obstetric care-giver.
I collaborated with Laerdal Global Health [LGH], a not-for-profit company whose work is dedicated to saving the lives of mothers and newborns in low income regions, through high-impact, low-cost solutions involving educational materials and training programs for midwives. I partnered with LGH to support competency development for labor management, with a focus on continuous training and education for midwives in Tanzania, sub Saharan Africa. Continuous training is on-going education of midwives through various methods of training and learning, with the goal of keeping skill sets current and evolving with best practice knowledge.
Around the world, as well as in In sub Saharan Africa, medical systems can be stressed by a range of factors, including lack of resources and lack experienced midwives, which leads to challenges to follow standardized obstetric guidelines and an over-burdening workload for the midwife. There is also a high frequency of midwife turnover within clinics and hospitals, making it difficult to train a fluctuating staff of varying competencies and knowledge sets. The net effect of these challenges and beyond, made it imperative to address how midwives could be supported in their efforts to engage in continuous education and training.
To facilitate and support continuous education, a hybrid social chat and professional education platform, Rio, was created, powered by social interaction, knowledge exchange, and democratization of information. This platform’s aim was to give form and body to existing midwife continuous education efforts, something that comes in many shapes and sizes, and levels of tangibility. A proposal in the digital space was determined to be optimal due to its ability to increase access to information, and its adaptability to user needs and environments. Rio also challenges the ubiquitous nature of WhatsApp in the medical context by addressing and rethinking the generation, use, and storage of patient data. In tandem, Rio maintains the successful social platform use behaviors and patterns, while utilizing these traits to propel and facilitate professional education and knowledge exchange.
Additionally, it is understood that learning is both an individual and social activity, both physical and mental, and it inhabits people’s social and professional lives in many different ways. The flexible and inclusive nature of Rio strove to encompass these values and serve as a support for midwives. This proposal is not meant to prescribe a method for how midwives should approach continuous education, rather, it proposes a scaffolding that they can use within their community ---as they wish--- to sustain their education.