I get a reasonable amount of emails asking me for advice about moving to New Zealand, especially from midwives. So I thought I'd write a couple of posts about this. But please remember a couple of things when you read them:
- this is purely a personal opinion - you will no doubt hear other stories or view points when you speak to different people;
- I moved to New Zealand from England 11 years ago so things may have changed, especially with regards to requirements for emigration;
- my opinion is based on both my personal experience and that of other families who have moved here, in particular midwives and corrections officers;
- my context is moving from England and the British maternity system - you may find things different if you come from a different country and maternity context from England.
This post will deal with issues pertaining to working as a midwife. My next post will deal to more general issues of emigration to New Zealand.
The maternity system is different to that of the UK. So it is really important that you understand the differences and in particular, you understand the midwifery role that you will be taking on when you get here. To get a feel for midwifery issues have a look through my blog and that of Carolyn McIntosh, as well as The New Zealand College of Midwives and The Midwifery Council of New Zealand web sites. The majority of overseas midwives are recruited to be hospital midwives and for many English midwives that role can come as a bit of a shock. Hospital core midwives deal mostly with secondary care patients and with women who have just had their babies. In a lot of hospitals, there are few opportunities to be involved with primary births. So if you are expecting to walk straight into a primary role, you need to check that that is the reality. The other thing to ask yourself is: why can't the hospital manage to get local midwives to do the job?
If financial constraints mean you must have a job, make sure it is secured before you get here. Whilst we have a major midwifery shortage here, you cannot be guaranteed you can get a job that you want the minute you arrive. Having said that, try not to commit yourself to any binding contract just in case the job is not what you want.
Make sure you fully understand the requirements of midwifery registration.
Do not waste your money going through a recruitment agency. It is fairly easy to get a job is your go through the hospitals. Here are a couple of web site that advertise midwifery jobs:
The other option is to go to the web sites of all the various District Health Boards in the region where you wish to settle.
Be mindful that we have a much smaller birthing population than Europe, UK and the USA. The advantages of that is that life is not quite as hectic as it is when working in a big hospital that caters for thousands of births per year. The downside is that you do not get the same extensive experience that you would with larger birthing populations.
One example is the local hospital in Dunedin. It is a tertiary hospital and is one of the two medical schools in New Zealand. But it only has about 1800 births a year - this is the equivalent of a local cottage hospital in England. There are doctors falling over themselves with inevitable high intervention rates. The result for midwives in my view, especially hospital midwives, is a lack of autonomy and decrease in midwifery skills such as cannulation and perineal repair as well as midwifery collaboration ie midwives refer straight to doctors instead of more experienced midwives.
Having said all that, New Zealand offers midwives the opportunity for autonomous practice as lead maternity carer, with an extensive scope of practice that may not be available in other countries.
If you are interested in the experiences of midwives who have emigrated, keep an eye out for the work of Mary Sidebottem who is currently looking at the experiences of midwives moving to Australia.
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