Critical Incidents and their Contribution to the Professional Identity of the Midwife Professor in Chile

Incidentes críticos y su aporte a la identidad profesional de la matrona docente en Chile
Janet Elizabeth Altamirano-Droguetta,*,†, Óscar Ricardo Nail-Kroyerb,‡, Carles Monereo-Fontc,§

aUniversidad de Antofagasta, Ant., Chile.
bDepartamento Ciencias de la Educación, Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Concepción, Conc., Chile.
cDepartamento de Psicología Básica, Evolutiva y de la Educación, Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, BCN, España.

Recibido: 24-agosto-2019. Aceptado: 3-diciembre-2019.

* Autor para correspondencia: Janet Elizabeth Altamirano-Droguett. Víctor Lamas N°1290, Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile. Teléfono: +56412661710. Correo electrónico:


Este es un artículo Open Access bajo la licencia CC BY-NC-ND (

Palabras Clave

Incidentes críticos; identidad profesional; matrona docente; docencia universitaria; estudio cualitativo.


Critical incidents; professional identity; midwife professor; university teaching; qualitative study.


Introduction: University professors face a series of critical incidents over the course of their career that can cause the emotional destabilization of their own professional identity. In order to resolve these unforeseen incidents, professors must employ coping strategies, which are already controlled through either prior learning or unexpected findings, depending on the conditions that trigger the critical situation. There is no international, national or local empirical evidence related to critical incidents and the coping techniques employed by Chilean midwives professors. This study aims to be a contribution in this field.

Objective: To be able to recognize the analysis of critical incidents as a useful reflexive tool to provide radical changes in the professional identity of midwife professors.

Method: A qualitative and interpretative study was conducted based on the grounded theory to identify the most frequent critical incidents and coping strategies for these unexpected events, which was carried out through semi-structured interviews to midwives professors from different chilean universities.

Results: Twenty professionals took part in the research study. A total of forty-five critical incidents were identified. Out of the forty-five critical incidents, thirty were inside the classroom and fifteen in instructor-assisted clinical field with a predominance on behavioural norms. The answers most mentioned by the professors were of the reflexive and reactive type. The reflexive offer an adequate solution by employing transitional coping strategies, but do not necessarily achieve a meaningful change in their identity as professors, unlike innovative strategies that open the door to a re-conceptualization of their notions, practices, and emotions associated with teaching.

Conclusion: In order to strengthen the professional identity of midwife professors, it becomes necessary a training program focused on the management of critical incidents, which provides the necessary fundamental means to handle unforeseen incidents in various midwifery educational contexts.