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Clare - Scottish Midwife living in NZ

My Name is Clare I am a  Midwife I came to NZ in August 2018 from Scotland, UK.

The process to come to NZ took me 6 months (from accumulating enough experience to apply to the NZ Midwifery Council to starting my role in NZ.)

The easiest part of the process was the job hunt! Prudence at Accent Health did all the leg work of securing, setting up interviews, and took time out to do mock interviews over skype which made the real thing (also via skype) much less daunting. Happily in my case, my first interview lead to a job offer.

The most challenging part of the process was: There is a lot of paperwork and time required putting together a portfolio and submitting all the required paperwork to the NZ Midwifery Council to gain registration, but I decided to look on it as a worthwhile reflective and professional development activity. I was also due to revalidate with the NMC in the UK this year and after doing my NZ application, most things were also good to go for that! Helpful hint: I found the templates on the NMC Revalidation website very useful for putting together much of my application to the New Zealand Midwifery Council.

My first impressions of NZ were: I was lucky to have visited NZ several times previously, but my partner hadn’t. We arrived on a beautiful, bright, sunny, calm winter weekend and I thought If this is Winter I think well be grand. I struggle with how dark UK winters can be. Although not sunny every day in NZ, the winter days definitely seem brighter than Scotland.

The best parts of NZ are: More dependable weather to be able to enjoy an outdoors lifestyle, and a general get up and go attitude which I feel has a positive influence on me.

What I miss the most is:  Family and friends and missing important events such as Weddings back home. However Facetime is an incredible invention! Not that I’ve remotely attended a wedding...yet!

My advice if you are planning to come to NZ is:

Be organised and take time to do your research buy a few folders and lots of poly-pockets and dividers! I am typically not that organised a person but would have been overwhelmed by the admin side of the move if I hadn’t forced myself to  keep on top of it all.

Anything else you would like to say:

It has been a full-on year getting organised and moving  overseas. We are still sleeping on an airbed as we wait on our container arriving from the UK. But it’s also been such an  adventure and I am pretty amazed at what my partner and I have achieved  together in this last year. We shared responsibility for different parts of the move (i.e. I took the  lead on finding the initial job offer and renting out  our home in the UK and my partner researched  and organised shipping and flights etc). So my advice would be if you are planning to move over with someone, play to each others strengths. We also arrived in New Zealand on the Friday and I started work full time on the Monday....with hindsight I would recommend a little more time to draw breath and see a bit of New Zealand before launching in to work fulltime. We have discovered that Annual Leave is on average 4 weeks per year in NZ as opposed to the almost 6 weeks we enjoyed in Scotland. So now working, we are more limited in the time off we can accumulate to go explore and enjoy the parts of this incredibly beautiful country that aren’t on our doorstep

When thinking about accommodation when you first arrive in NZ we would recommend:

Checking out house sitting websites. We arranged a housesit on a small farm for a month  looking after their dogs and cows while they were overseas. It was a month of free  accommodation while we looked for a rental property, and a great introduction to a kiwi-lifestyle we would love to create for ourselves one day.

Questions about your new workplace:

Are there any major differences between your current role in NZ and your previous role in Scotland:

The system of maternity care differs in NZ to Scotland in that women in choose an independent midwife (known as a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC)). This is a free service to women and the LMC invoices the government for their time. The LMC will co-ordinate the woman’s maternity journey and also provide intrapartum care. My role as a hospital based midwife on the delivery suite is to care for women in labour who may not have booked with  an LMC, may be experiencing interventions such as labour augmentation or an epidural (care for which their LMC may not have an agreement with the hospital to provide), or women requiring transfer to theatre.


Communication with an LMC is so important in my role. It is a new dynamic to get used to. Often  an LMC will hand over care to a hospital midwife (such as myself) but stay in a supportive role which is fantastic for the women and often they are a very useful second pair of eyes and hands! But it’s remembering that you are the responsible practitioner in the room once care is handed over; which can feel a bit different when you know the LMC may have many more years of experience than you. But with open communication I have experienced it so far as a positive  dynamic. The system of care here seems not too dissimilar to the principles of Best Start which is  being developed in Scotland – the main difference being, LMC’s are self-employed and negotiate  their own workloads as opposed to working for an employer such as the NHS.

Are there any similarities that have helped you orientate/transition easily?

I have found the high standards of care in NZ very similar to Scotland (i.e. an evidence based-approach to practice and being accountable as a midwife for your actions and  omissions). I made no secret in my application for the job that my 3 years post qualification experience in the UK had been predominantly community based and I still had many hospital based skills to consolidate. In my new role as a core district health board midwife I received 4 weeks supernumerary orientation on the delivery suite, working alongside an assigned midwife each shift. I have to commend my employer on developing a very thorough orientation package which meant that once I was flying solo I knew what was expected of me in my role, where to find equipment, which paperwork needs completed and when etc. Happily every colleague I have encountered so far has been friendly, approachable and supportive, as were my amazing NHS colleague I left behind in

Edinburgh. I feel it is important to have a strong team around you when working in a very  emotive, often fast-paced department such as maternity and it was a real worry I had before

starting but happily in my case I needn’t have stressed.

Is there anything specifically done differently in NZ that has interested you and the way you practice your profession?

With regards to standards of practice it is very similar to the UK. Birth in NZ is very much viewed as a family event and there is no limit on the number of family/friends a women wishes present at her birth.  While it can sometimes make the birthing rooms feel a little crowded, it can often lead to a very positive and supportive atmosphere. Most women do just decide to have one or two people present to support them but I think it is positive that if they wish more they are allowed more people as it is their birth experience...not mine...and it is lovely that that is acknowledged.



How do I get registered in New Zealand? How much will I get paid in New Zealand? Where is the best place to work in New Zealand? Do my children need visas for New Zealand? For answers to these questions and more, check out our FAQs page.


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