Welcoming Our First International Midwives

The first two midwives from overseas recently arrived at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. They have been recruited, in partnership with NHS Professionals, as part of a Scottish Government initiative to increase international recruitment and support the delivery of health services across Scotland.

The midwives, from Finland and America, have a wide range of midwifery experience and each has been assigned an NHS Forth Valley midwife who, along with other team members, will support them as they adapt to their new lives in Scotland and working within our NHS.

The international recruitment programme is being carried out ethically in line with the Scottish Code of Practice for the International Recruitment of Health and Social Care Personnel.

This ensures NHS Scotland does not recruit from countries with their own qualified healthcare staffing shortages. NHS Forth Valley’s recruitment team and midwifery department worked together to develop a comprehensive induction and training plan for the new midwives and are also providing ongoing support to help them adapt to their new lives in Scotland.

Aino Lindstrom from Finland qualified as a nurse and midwife in May 2021 and, before coming to Forth Valley, she worked in a hospital in Pori on the West Coast of Finland. She has experience of working across labour ward, antenatal, postnatal gynaecological services and has worked at a support centre for women who have experienced sexual abuse. In Finland, students complete a double degree to qualify as registered nurses and midwives when they graduate so during her studies Aino also gained experience in an acute surgical and gastroenterological ward and a nursing home for older people.

Aino said she was keen to come to Scotland for a change of scenery and to broaden her midwifery. She explained: “I am most excited to broaden my experience here as, in Finland, midwives do not usually work in the community, and I haven´t had a chance to work in a triage assessment clinic before. Having the opportunity to strengthen my skills by rotating across all fields of midwifery is very appealing to me and I am really looking forward to working in Forth Valley.”

Sarah Paeth grew up in a small town in Oregon on the west coast of the USA and has worked as a midwife for 7 years. Prior to that she studied Public Health and also worked as a nurse and doula. As well as working in her home state of Oregon, Sarah has travelled across the world through assignments with Médecins San Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. She has also worked in the Arctic Circle region of Alaska, caring for the Alaska Native/Inuit population.

Sarah said: “I love caring for women and families from all different cultures and backgrounds, and I am especially passionate about providing quality midwifery care to people living in more rural or remote settings.

A keen walker and runner, Sarah first visited Scotland in 2015 and fell in love with the country. She is looking forward to her new job and also getting out and seeing more of the country in her free time.

She explained: “There are so many beautiful areas on my bucket list that I want to explore here. I’m really excited to join the midwifery team here and serve the Forth Valley community. Everyone has been so welcoming, so I really just can’t wait to jump in! I look forward to learning from and teaching each other on this cross-cultural midwifery experience! Oh, and of course I can’t wait to eat a few scones!”

Lisa Fairweather, NHS Forth Valley’s International Recruitment Lead, who welcomed the midwives to NHS Forth Valley, said. “We are delighted to welcome the first midwives to join us as part of the International Recruitment scheme.

“Our new colleagues are a welcome addition to our midwifery teams and recruiting staff from overseas also provides a great opportunity to learn from each other.”

The midwives are following in the footsteps of a number of nursing and physiotherapy colleagues recruited from overseas who have chosen to work in NHS Forth Valley.

To date 34 nurses and three physiotherapists have been recruited through the international scheme and there are plans to recruit a further 18 nurses over the next six months with 10 arriving in February and 8 in May 2024.

Photo caption: Aino Lindstrom (left) and Sarah Paeth are pictured outside the entrance of Forth Valley Royal Hospital