Home Midwives FAQs: General

FAQs: General

To become a midwife in New Zealand you are required to undertake a three-year degree programme in Midwifery. This is equivalent to a four-year applied degree with a strong science base, and extensive clinical experience in hospital and the community.

Clinical elective placements in New Zealand are not easy to obtain, as priority is given to New Zealand students. If you wish to seek practice experience as a student midwife in New Zealand you are advised to contact the Undergraduate Schools of Midwifery. You will need to demonstrate support from your own Midwifery School.

As an overseas student you would need to make arrangements for professional indemnity insurance. If you don’t have indemnity you will not be able to have “hands on experience” as a student midwife.

You need to have at least two years’ experience as a midwife before you can apply to the Midwifery Council to go onto the Register of Midwives and apply for an annual practising certificate (APC). Most overseas qualified midwives will also be required to undertake additional education to practise in New Zealand.

In addition, you will also need a work visa. For information about work visas, see the New Zealand Immigration website.

New Zealand does not currently have a shortage of midwives, although there are shortages in some regions of the country. As such you need to look for advertisements from district health boards (DHBs) that are recruiting midwives or see our situations vacant page.

Midwifery and Nursing are two separate and different degrees and, whilst some theory papers may be cross referenced, the majority of the midwifery degree will need to be completed. This is because the midwifery degree is based on 50% practice, as well as 50% theory. The final year of the midwifery degree is 70% practice, with extensive time in either the community with a Lead Maternity Carer or in a hospital setting.

There are four schools of midwifery in New Zealand. Their websites provide a better understanding of the midwifery degree and information on how to contact a tutor to discuss further.

Registered health practitioners seeking recognition of prior learning (RPL) for their qualification and experience must be registered in New Zealand. They are also required to provide a certificate of ‘Good Standing’ from the relevant registering body in New Zealand.

Professional Indemnity Insurance covers the costs and expenses of defending allegations of professional malpractice in the administration of client care. The policy also pays any costs if damages are awarded against you in such cases.

Membership fees help to ensure the ongoing integrity, quality and success of midwifery services throughout New Zealand. More information is on our Membership page.

As the New Zealand undergraduate education programme meets the International Confederation of Midwives’ standards for midwifery education, New Zealand graduates generally have few problems in obtaining registration in other countries, as long as they also meet the country-specific requirements.

Each country has its own requirements for registration as a midwife, including language competency in countries where English is not the native language.

In some larger countries (e.g. USA), each state has its own system of regulation and midwives need to obtain regulation for the state that they intend to work in.

LMC Midwives or maternity facilities approached by overseas students for clinical placements need to consider the following:

  • Who is indemnifying their practice? Although their University or School of Midwifery may state it is covering them for indemnity purposes, their contracts and insurance are usually not valid in New Zealand. Without effective indemnity cover, international students can only have an observational role.
  • Are there New Zealand students seeking clinical placements at the same time as the overseas student? We strongly recommend you contact your local School of Midwifery to discuss this, as the College supports offering clinical placements to our future workforce of New Zealand students in preference to overseas students.
  • Are you aware of the student’s level of competency within their undergraduate programme, e.g. a second-year student from an overseas programme may not be at the same level as a second-year student in a New Zealand programme.
  • How will you connect with the student’s midwifery school to ensure you have a point of contact for any issues that arise during placement, i.e. feedback for concerns, clarifying learning needs, framework for assessment etc?
  • Does the student’s school have a learning agreement or contract for you to consider? Is it appropriate for the New Zealand context? The contract universities provide are not generally related to clinical experience in other countries. The contracts also usually require you to abide by the policies of the University when having students – how will you do this?
  • How well prepared is the student for the New Zealand context of care? Do they understand the model of care, cultural differences and specifics of the New Zealand population?
  • What are the expectations of the DHB or any maternity facilities that the student may be accessing during the placement, i.e. MRSA, oversight, indemnity etc?
  • Remember, registered midwives supervising students are fully accountable for their practice. Hosting an overseas student may be problematic if you are not well supported by the school of origin or have limited ability to seek advice and support from the school.

Midwifery News is published quarterly and the New Zealand College of Midwives Journal is printed once a year (with individual articles disseminated electronically once available for publishing). If you are a current member of the College, these publications are posted to your home.

All new members receive the most recent Midwifery News and Journal issue that we have in stock. Other back-dated issues that we still have in stock can be purchased through the College shop.

Please login to the Membership Portal or contact the membership administrator to ensure your contact details are up to date.