Studying Midwifery at Otago Polytechnic prepared me for a career. There’s a large clinical component, which means you get your hands-on learning right from the ‘get go’!
When choosing a career, Hannah’s decision came down to two options: vet nursing or midwifery. She opted for the latter, and has never looked back.
“To get into the Bachelor of Midwifery programme, I did a pre-entry certificate in Health, which I was able to do via distance while I was working,” she explains. “It totally set me up, and prepared me for the demands of the degree.”
Based in Central Otago, distance learning was the ideal option for Hannah. She had weekly face-to-face meetings with her class and then went to Dunedin for block courses. “It’s important to be organised when you’re studying via distance,” she says. “I know people say that all the time, but I honestly think it is essential when doing a degree online.”
Hannah’s tutor at the Central Otago satellite really impressed her. “She was available to answer any questions I had, and was full of knowledge. Her background was rural midwifery, which is where my passion is – so it was great to learn from her.”
During her degree, Hannah was fortunate enough to do a four-week placement in Vanuatu. “It was amazing, and really eye-opening to see another country’s perspective on pregnancy and childbirth,” she says. “It makes you really thankful for what we have in New Zealand.”
Hannah, who now works as a midwife at Wellington hospital, is passionate about her career. “The thing I find most rewarding about being a midwife is being part of the journey for the families I work with. It’s such a special part of their life.”
It’s very satisfying working with women, supporting them on the journey they’re going through.
Malita Fanning chose a career change to Midwifery after eight-years working in Telecommunications Marketing. “Midwifery was something I had always been interested in,” she says, “but I was a little scared, to be honest, of the responsibility. It took till after my last child for me to decide to do it.”
Based in Wellington, she studied for the Bachelor of Midwifery through Otago Polytechnic’s Wellington satellite. “Otago Polytechnic was the only institute that offered distance education,” she explains. “The flexibility was great. Online learning means that you can pick and choose when you do your study. There are some compulsory online lectures, but you can easily fit these in at home.”
Malita highlights the importance of self-motivation with distance learning. “No one’s going to do it for you – but coming together with a tutor and students makes it all work really well.” Every week she also had a face-to-face tutorial, where she met with other students and a tutor based in Wellington. “The course tutors were amazing. They’re so supportive and knowledgeable – and go above and beyond to support you.”
The most rewarding aspect about her profession is supporting women to overcome challenges – whether before, during or after the birth. “I love seeing how proud they are of themselves, and to think I’ve supported them through the process is an awesome experience.”
Malita believes Otago Polytechnic has definitely prepared her for a career as a midwife. “It’s all encompassing: the study, the practice, following the women, following the midwife, and living the life of a midwife as a student,” she says. “It makes it real. You know exactly what you’re in for. I can’t imagine doing it anywhere else.”
Norma is one of the few people in New Zealand maternity sector who can bring all the threads together from policy to the day-to-day working life of a midwife
Master of Midwifery
Norma Campbell is a 2017 Otago Polytechnic Distinguished Alumi.
Norma was the first graduate from Otago Polytechnic’s Master of Midwifery programme in 2004. Her thesis was titled Employed midwives maintaining competence, which has set the ground work for a stellar career.
Norma has had a phenomenal influence on midwifery in New Zealand. In 2009, she was awarded membership of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her contribution to women’s health, particularly midwifery.
Norma’s commitment to women’s health over the years includes her position as a midwifery advisor at the NZ College of Midwives, chairperson of New Zealand’s National Breastfeeding Committee and member of a number of Ministry advisory committees and multidisciplinary groups. Norma is on the NZ Multidisciplinary Guidelines Group which advised health practitioners across the spectrum of maternity care on evidence based practice.
More recently, Norma was seconded to the role of Executive Director of the Midwifery and Maternity Provider Organisation (MMPO) and she has just been appointed Director of Midwifery for Canterbury and West Coast District Health Boards.
Associate Professor Judith McAra-Cooper, Director of Centre for Midwifery and Women’s Health Research, says there is little that has happened in the Maternity sector in the last twenty years that Norma has not been part of.
“Norma is one of the few people in New Zealand maternity sector who can bring all the threads together from policy to the day-to-day working life of a midwife. When you speak with midwives around New Zealand, Norma is spoken of with awe, admiration, affection and respect for the amazing way she guides midwives and midwifery in New Zealand.”
All this, and she still works as a midwife at a primary birthing unit in Christchurch!
Read more about the Master of Midwifery at Otago Polytechnic.
When you’re finally working in your chosen vocation you can have the longest day but still walk out with a smile on your face.
Bachelor of Midwifery
Emma Medeiros had always wanted to be a midwife but the cost and lack of direct entry into a midwifery course at that time in England put it firmly out of her reach. That all changed in 2008 when the former restauranteur moved to New Zealand with her husband and had her second child under the care of a New Zealand midwife.
“I had three different midwives when I was in labour with my first child in the UK. As each eight hour shift finished there’d be a new face. In New Zealand I had a midwife that was with me right through my entire pregnancy, so I thought ‘hold the phone’ I have to do this.”
After two years residency Emma qualified for a student loan, applied for the Otago Polytechnic Midwifery qualification and was accepted.
“I really liked the online aspects of the programme. As a mother with two young children to look after, not much family support and a husband with a career, it gave me the flexibility to plan my study around my family. I could be an active member of my class while watching my children play outside which I would not have been able to do in a classroom.”
Emma is now working as a midwife in Dunedin. “The programme absolutely prepared me for the job. It’s a really practical qualification, we were working clinically straight away and really encouraged to be hands on. Being a midwife has affected every single part of my life, it's changed the way I feel about being a mother and I feel like I’m a much fuller person.”
There’s such a sense of self-esteem and accomplishment. I have more confidence that I am providing evidence-based research for teaching purposes.
Master of Midwifery
Stefanie Kalmakoff has been a midwife for 18 years, and currently works as a Lactation Specialist at Otago District Health Board. Her role assists mothers and babies to establish breastfeeding. She is also charged with providing education to staff, midwifery students and medical students teaching them about this important function and relationship.
As a graduate of the Bachelor of Midwifery at Otago Polytechnic in the 1990’s and a local Otago resident, doing her master’s here just “seemed to make sense” but the real impetus to start the qualification didn’t occur until Stefanie watched her son playing computer games for hours. She recalls telling him that if he had enough time to play computer games then he could be doing something more productive like furthering his education. She then thought, “I better follow my own advice and set an example”.
It’s a decision that she hasn’t regretted. She describes the Master of Midwifery as a “really good programme” and perfect for midwives who have some “burning questions about midwifery practice that they want to research and find answers to”. Stefanie herself investigated the predictors of formula supplementation of breast-fed babies and found several significant links including high maternal Body Mass Index index, use of postpartum utero-tonics and a short duration of skin-to-skin contact after birth.
“I would encourage other midwives to pursue this qualification. You learn a lot along the way. Finishing it really gives you something to be proud of.”
It was a really good experience, I learned so much about myself and my family. It was a journey for all of us.
Bachelor of Midwifery
Fana Temese-To'omaga is the first Pasifika woman to graduate from the Wellington satellite of the Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Midwifery. The programme is delivered by a blended model where students study online from their own home and attend weekly akonga sessions with local Kaiako in one of six satellites. They also engage in midwifery practice in their local satellite and attend compulsory week-long block courses in Kapiti or Dunedin.
Fana is a New Zealand-born Samoan from Wellington – married to Peter and mother to Ferila, Joshua, Sera, Shekinah and Hadassah. Fana grew up wanting to be a midwife but put it in the “too-hard” basket. Instead she worked as a librarian until she decided it was time for a change and re-trained as a Pacific Breast Feeding Educator/Advocate. As time went by, the midwife/lactation consultant who worked with Fana kept encouraging her to apply for the programme.
“I didn’t feel very confident at first as I hadn’t done anything academic for about 20 years and it was a big shock, but I was determined to keep going because I wanted my kids to know if I can do it, then they can do anything they want.”
Fana also felt the pressure of being the first Pasifika woman to study in the Wellington satellite via the new blended programme model.
“It was hard because I knew I stuck out like a sore thumb, and there was the expectation that I’d pave the way for others.”
For her month-long elective placement in August last year, Fana had the opportunity to go to Vanuatu and immerse herself in ‘island life’. The most valuable resource was the experience and skill of the local midwives, whom Fana found to be extremely intuitive, caring and open to new learning. ‘‘It was a two-way experience with lots of laughter.”
Fana is now a core midwife at the Wellington Regional Hospital and is part of the Midwifery First Year of Practice programme, which matches newly qualified midwives with professional mentors and is compulsory for all new graduates in New Zealand. “You are always learning in this profession - it doesn’t end because you have graduated, actually, it’s just the beginning.”