Friday, November 25, 2011

Me. . . in the news

This past spring, the Norwegian Parliament passed a recommendation on integration of foreigners/immigrants into the Norwegian workplace. Among other things, they strongly encouraged "improving measures for rapidly recognizing immigrants' education and skills". A reporter at our local Lillehammer newspaper, "Gudbrandsdølen Dagningen", known as "GD" (and pronounced: Gay-Day, because that's how you say "G" and "D" in Norwegian), anyway. . . the reporter was writing a series of stories about foreigners and their challenges of finding work in Norway. Last week she wrote a nice article about a local boutique that hired an Afghani woman to work, and what a great situation it's been for employee and employer. My former landlady, fellow barnehage mother, and now friend, is an editor of the paper, and told her colleague that she should talk to me, as I am a rather qualified nurse and midwife who can't get permission to work in this fine country.

I met the reporter on Monday morning. I told her my story, 95% in Norwegian. The latest update on my nursing license application is that in September I turned in paperwork clarifying student work experiences I had in 1996. We were told at the time that my application was at the top of the pile. Then two months passed. We called and called, never getting ahold of anyone. Finally, 3 weeks ago they say we should have a letter in 10 days. I was interviewed for this article on Day 19.

Here's the front page from Tuesday: front page!!!
Yes, that's ME, upper left corner!
The title reads: Over one year has gone
without approval. Nurse and midwife
education and over 12 years experience
in the USA is maybe not good enough
in Norway? It has been over one year
since Emily Stange sought approval from
Statens autorisajonskontor for helsepersonell.

And then, here's the article, translated with much help from GoogleTranslate:

Yes, this picture is about 8x10 inches tall. 
Emily Stange is educated as a nurse and midwife from the USA and has more than 12 years of experience. But to get approved competence in Norway has proved to be a tough process.

Lillehammer: All immigrants should get credit for their competence, according to NOU 2011-14. The study is part of the basis for this spring's Parliament Paper on better integration of foreigners.

Emily Stange could not agree more. She longs to use her midwife education in this country, but has so far waited for over one year for approval.


In August last year Emily came to Lillehammer together with her husband and daughter. Her husband who is also American, is long in the job as a research scientist at NINA.

Emily also believed it would be a cinch to get the paperwork in order.

"On the website of SAFH we were promised a waiting period of three to four months. Now it's been one year, and neither the midwife nor the nursing license has been approved. We have called and asked many times about how long I have to wait and have received various answers. It's almost an all-day job just to get in touch with the right person", says Emily.

Last she and her husband contacted SAFH,  they were told that she should receive a reply within ten days.  Now, three weeks have passed. . . 


The treatment of Emily's application was lopsided from the start. In January, she received a letter that she only had two years of nursing education and that her education, therefore, was not approved.

"They obviously had not read the application, where it is clear that my nursing education is four years. The whole process was set back five months at that point", says the 36-year-old.

She has a bachelor's degree as a nurse from St. Olaf College and a master's degree as a midwife from the University of Utah. For six years she has worked as a midwife at a large hospital in New Hampshire. Before that, she worked over six years as a nurse in a newborn intensive unit with a children's hospital in Salt Lake City. 

"I think I had a good education and great work experience from a pretty large and well-known country. Therefore I thought it should be totally fine to be able to use my education in Norway. Perhaps this was a bit naive?" asked Emily.

She has experienced the waiting time as frustrating; an emotional roller-coaster. She has passed the time by learning better Norwegian and doing home improvements on a house in Søre Ål. 

"I've spoken with the midwives at the hospital in Lillehammer. They have been very encouraging. I think the Norwegian system seems square and not very flexible. It is as if the people at SAFH are sitting with a microscope to find anything that doesn't pass exactly, instead of focusing on the whole picture. In the first place, I have to wait for my nursing education to be approved. They haven't even begun on my midwifery application. This should be possible to coordinate", according to the health care worker, who is just waiting to get to work. "My husband has a good job in Lillehammer and we intend to stay here. But it can only happen if I, too, may use my education."

So, in the end. . . what happened? 
Stay tuned til tomorrow. I can only translate so much in one day. . .