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Dr Rachael Spencer DHSci, MSc, PGDE, BSc (Hons), RM, RNT, RHV, RN, FHEA

Principal Lecturer, Professional Lead (Midwifery) and Lead Midwife for Education


I lead the operational and strategic management of the midwifery team in the context of the Department's key operational and strategic objectives. I have extensive experience of leadership in the higher education sector and extensive experience of programme design, development and management. I am committed to providing high quality teaching to ensure students take an active role in their learning, in addition to identifying opportunities for improvement of the student experience.


In this post, I am the academic leader for the midwifery team. I am responsible for maintaining and developing effective midwifery curricula, overseeing the development, delivery and management of pre and post registration midwifery education provision, contributing to the Department's business plan by driving forward the department's key operational and strategic objectives. As the designated Lead Midwife for Education, I am accountable to the Nursing & Midwifery Council for maintaining standards in pre-registration and post experience midwifery education, ensuring that midwifery needs and perspectives are understood within the wider College and that due regard is met. I am a member of LME/NMC strategic reference group and LME national executive group. I undertake strategic partnership working with practice partners to ensure an effective placement learning environment.

My academic interests focus upon infant feeding, women’s health, maternal wellbeing, postpartum care, public health, qualitative research methodologies and ways to capture patient/client voice and experience. I teach on the Department’s undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes and I supervise undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students.


My research lies primarily in qualitative work, centring on the context of breastfeeding, whilst drawing from a range of disciplines, including phenomenological perspectives. I am also interested in pedagogical research including research that evaluates the impact of education on practice.


Key Publications

Spencer, R., & Yuill, O. (2018). Support for pre-registration midwifery studentsand mentors in clinical practice: a small scaleevaluation of the duty teacher role. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, 28 (1), 11-16.

Spencer, R., & Yuill, O. (2018). Embedding evidence-based practice within the pre-registration midwifery curriculum. British Journal of Midwifery, 26 (5), 338-342.

Hinsliff-Smith, K., & Spencer, R. (2016). Researcher perspectives from a study of women’s experiences of breastfeeding. Nurse Researcher, 23 (3), 13-17.

Spencer, R., Greatrex-White, S., & Fraser, D.M. (2015). ”I thought it would keep them all quiet”. Women’s experiences of breastfeeding as illusions of compliance. Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 71 (5), 1076-1086.

Spencer, R., Greatrex-White, S., & Fraser, D.M. (2014). ”I was meant to be able to do this”: women’s experiences of breastfeeding. A phenomenological study. Evidence Based Midwifery, 12 (3), 83-88.

Hinsliff-Smith, K., Spencer, R., & Walsh, D. (2014). Realities, difficulties, and outcomes for mothers choosing to breastfeed: Primigravid mothers experiences in the early postpartum period (6–8 weeks). Midwifery, 30 (1), 14-19.

Akuamoah-Boateng, J., & Spencer, R. (2018). Woman-centered care: Women's experiences and perceptions of induction of labor for uncomplicated post-term pregnancy: A systematic review of qualitative evidence. Midwifery, 67, 46-56.

Spencer, R., & Fraser, D.M. (2018). ‘You're kinda passing a test’: A phenomenological study of women's experiences of breastfeeding. British Journal of Midwifery, 26 (11), 724-730.

Spencer, R., & Fraser, D. (n.d.). You feel like you’re being checked up’re kinda passing a test’ : an interpretive phenomenological study of women’s experiences of breastfeeding. British Journal of Midwifery, 26 (10).

Journal articles

Marvin-Dowle, K., Soltani, H., & Spencer, R. (2021). Infant feeding in diverse families; the impact of ethnicity and migration on feeding practices. Midwifery, 103124.

Spencer, R., Greatrex-White, S., & Fraser, D.M. (2014). 'I was meant to be able to do this': A phenomenological study of women's experiences of breastfeeding. Evidence Based Midwifery, 12 (3), 83-88.

Spencer, R.L., Greatrex-White, S., & Fraser, D.M. (2010). Practice improvement, breastfeeding duration and health visitors. Community practitioner : the journal of the Community Practitioners' & Health Visitors' Association, 83 (9), 19-22.

Higgins, G., Spencer, R.L., & Kane, R. (2010). A systematic review of the experiences and perceptions of the newly qualified nurse in the United Kingdom. Nurse Education Today, 30 (6), 499-508.

Spencer, R.L. (2008). Research methodologies to investigate the experience of breastfeeding: A discussion paper. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 45 (12), 1823-1830.

Linsley, P., Kane, R., Mckinnon, J., Spencer, R., & Simpson, T. (2008). Preparing for the future: Nurse education and workforce development. Quality in Primary Care, 16 (3), 171-176.

Spencer, R. (2007). Ontological perspectives of breastfeeding. British Journal of Midwifery, 15 (12), 779-783.

Spencer, R.L. (2006). Nurses', midwives' and health visitors' perceptions of the impact of higher education on professional practice. Nurse Education Today, 26 (1), 45-53.

Conference papers

Spencer, R., Thomas, C., & Stephenson, J. (2019). Infant feeding education, clinical experience and preparedness for practice: student midwives' experiences. In Nurse Education Today, 3 September 2019 - 5 September 2019.

Spencer, R. (2017). The impact of a weighted marking criteria domain rubric in marking – a pilot study from the School of Health Sciences. In Christmas TeachFest, 2017.

Spencer, R., Leekhuan, P., & Higginbottom, G. (2017). Understanding adolescent pregnancy from the perspectives of pregnant adolescents in a Northern Thailand province: A phenomenological study. In World Congress on Nursing & Nurse Education, Rome, 7 September 2017 - 9 September 2017.

Spencer, R. (2015). Breastfeeding and the obese mother. In British Journal of Midwifery: Obesity Conference, 15 July 2015 - 16 July 2015.

Spencer, R., Greatrex-White, S., & Fraser, D. (2013). Keeping up Appearances: Women’s experiences of infant feeding. In Nutrition and Nurture in Infancy and Childhood: Bio-Cultural Perspectives, Grange over Sands, Cumbria, 10 June 2013 - 12 June 2013.

Spencer, R., Greatrex-White, S., & Fraser, D. (2010). Health Visitors and the potential impact of practice improvement strategies to improve breastfeeding duration. In CPHVA Annual Conference, Harrogate, 20 October 2010 - 22 October 2010.

Spencer, R., Greatrex-White, S., & Fraser, D. (2009). An exploration of the breastfeeding experiences of women in one East Midlands city. In RCN International Nursing Research Conference, 24 March 2009 - 27 March 2009.

Spencer, R., & Greatrex-White, S. (2008). Methodologies for Researching Women’s Experiences of Breastfeeding. In 7th Annual Qualitative Research Conference, Bournemouth, 8 September 2008 - 10 September 2008.

Spencer, R., & Reilly, R. (2007). Designing and delivering a public health focused pre registration adult nursing degree programme: a nurse for the 21st century? In Nurse Education Today, Cambridge, 4 September 2007 - 6 September 2007.

Other activities

  • Member of LME/NMC strategic reference group
  • Member of LME national executive group
  • Currently external examiner for Graduate Diploma/BSc (Hons) Midwifery, Return to Practice Midwifery and Examination of the New-born programmes, Birmingham City University.

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