Griffith academic acknowledged as top maternity researcher 

Professor of Midwifery and Clinical Chair Jennifer Fenwick has been acknowledged in The Australian’s Research magazine as a research leader in pregnancy and childbirth.  

Professor Fenwick said she was “both delighted and humbled by the announcement”.

Professor Fenwick said it was fantastic to see Griffith named as the leading research institution for pregnancy and childbirth as  “this acknowledges the strength, breadth and expertise of the [email protected] team”.  

She said the specific identification of the category of “pregnancy and childbirth” is an important aspect of the announcement.

“Maternity and midwifery research is often categorised under ‘nursing’ or ‘obstetrics,’ and this results in midwifery research being less visible.”  

Professor Fenwick’s career as a midwifery clinician, academic and researcher has spanned nearly 40 years.

A national and international researcher

She initially built a reputation as a national and international researcher in areas such as women’s experiences of mothering in the nursery, women’s expectations for labour and birth (including fear of childbirth), and women’s experiences of caesarean section and vaginal birth after caesarean section.

This work subsequently focused her interest in women’s emotional wellbeing during pregnancy, birth and the early transition to motherhood, and the impact and role of relationships, language and models of care.

Today Professor Fenwick’s focus is very much about translating the evidence into practice.

“I am particularly proud of the work being undertaken within Gold Coast Health to reorientate services to align with the evidence, ensuring that more women have access to continuity of midwifery-led care within a supportive multidisciplinary team.”

The inaugural Professor of Midwifery and Clinical Chair role commenced seven years ago when Professor Fenwick was appointed. During this period, she has published over 100 articles and supported four students to complete their PhD.

In addition, Professor Fenwick has supervised 16 Hons/Master students to completion of their dissertation. She has also written  54 grant applications with 17 being successful funded ($828,683).  

In her joint appointment role Professor Fenwick has strategically developed the organisation’s research, clinical leadership, and practice development capability (translation).

Her work aligns with the state and national agenda around continuity of midwifery care (caseload midwifery) and she has been influential in improving quality, access and equity of maternity services within the GCHS.   

As a direct result of Professor Fenwick’s contribution and leadership role, Gold Coast University Hospital now has a clear strategic plan for maternity and newborn services with an incremental increase in women’s access to caseload midwifery.

Notably, 18% of women giving birth at GCUH now receive caseload midwifery, a percentage increase of 283% in seven years. This is a direct measure of the impact of Professor Fenwick’s evidence translation role. 

Professor Fenwick has strengthened leadership at multiple levels. She has promoted a strong and effective partnership between GCH and Griffith University.  The strategic leadership of this role has deepened the partnership between GCHS and Griffith University.  

Recently, Professor Fenwick and colleagues at Griffith established the Transforming Maternity Care Collaborative.

Under the leadership of Professor Midwifery Jenny Gamble

The Collaborative brings together four key arms of Griffith’s midwifery research and scholarship; Practice Translation, Workforce, Health Promotion, and Education and fosters engagement with a range of key stakeholders including consumers, researchers, economists, educators, clinicians and health services from across the globe.  

Of the many thousands of universities teaching in nursing and midwifery, Griffith University is ranked 11 in the world (and first in Queensland) following the release of the 2018 Shanghai Ranking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects.