When I was a year qualified as a midwife, I went to work in New Zealand for 6 months. Colleagues told me I was ‘brave’. Others would caution me that moving on my own to a new country wasn’t easy, that ‘everything will be new and you’ll find it hard to find friends’. Forums cautioned me getting a visa would be difficult, and midwives were particularly keen on the idea that the available vacancies were probably substandard.
Luckily I was too foolish and excited to listen to any of this advice, as arriving in NZ went like this: I stepped off the plane, found some medical students to hang out with, a house with brilliant ‘flatties’, and a job in which I felt valued, despite being junior. And I wouldn’t say I am the most capable or social person; I was just enthusiastic.
It was the most continuous fun over 6 months i’ve ever had. Of course I had occasional homesick days, but a town like New Plymouth is easy to adjust to and I was very content and excited.
I haven’t concentrated on the many people who gave me encouragement here, but you see my point: if I’d have listened to the negative things I would never have even have googled ‘working in New Zealand’.
So therefore over the next few weeks I’m going to try and put up articles about how to find and apply for work in New Zealand and also document my application process for working in Australia as a midwife.
To start I have some reasons why you should think about working in New Zealand:
- Life is short. Do what makes you happy. To be happy most people want sunshine, nature, a relaxed environment, reduced pollution and friendly colleagues and friends. New Zealand offers these things as it has a small population and amazing scenery. I went from living in inner city Leicester to a small NZ town, and my quality of life went up considerably as I was able to stroll down to the beach or a climb a mountain with much less planning than in the UK. And the weather is much better; although it rains sometimes, and there are occasional storms, it isn’t grey like England and there is always one day a week with good sunshine (see here, here and herefor posts about being in NZ, but also check the archives).
- New Zealanders have a much better work/life balance than in the UK. In my UK job, I would routinely go 7 or 8 hours solid without a break. In New Zealand, it was unheard to go without a coffee for 4 or so hours.
- Working within a different hospital system gives you perspective, which in turn can help you relax about work and life.
- Many midwives I know who moved to New Zealand with kids think their families have more opportunities to enjoy life.
- Moving for 6 months on a working holiday visa is a great way to ‘try before you buy’. England has these schemes with New Zealand and Australia whereas most nationalities find it very hard to get such visas. We are in a privileged position, use it!
- Moving countries will give you many new experiences, which will develop your character and professional skills.
- With a bit of experience, working independently as a midwife is easy to set up if that’s what you want to do. Some midwives in the UK get frustrated by the confines of hospitals, and you can always join an independent group practice of midwives to get taste of whether its for you.
- In my experience there is also less elitism in hobbies and clubs in New Zealand (because everyone is more relaxed), for instance, running and cycling clubs have a massive range of abilities.
- Working in a different country provides skills you wouldn’t find on your own, making you more employable at a higher standard if you go back to the UK. For instance in New Zealand, the Baby Friendly Initiative is much more widespread in hospitals, and I picked up some brilliant skills to help mothers breastfeed.
There are of course some challenges and some negative things about New Zealand, and I will write about these at some point in depth (don’t get me started on Internet/broadband issues) but basically the midwifery system does mean some midwives with limited skills do work on their own and this can be a shock for the British trained.
The hospitals can also be old fashioned with some incidences of dominating type doctors (as I imagine England must have had 50 years ago).
But these problems were not insurmountable and women mostly received a high standard of care. Overall I found New Zealand’s maternity system to be a refreshing change, and the lifestyle was much better.