Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Appeals board tomorrow

Tomorrow Erik and I will travel to Oslo to meet with the Helsepersonnelnemda (the Health Personnel independent appeals board) who will review both my nursing and midwife license applications for the last time.

It is a long awaited day. This process began in October 2010, when I sent in pages and pages of documentation of my transcripts from my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, along with long letters from my advisors and department chairs, explaining what topics were covered in each course, and how many hours and weeks were spent in each course and in every area of clinical practice.

This process was repeated again in February 2011, after SAFH (the folk who review these applications) concluded (after 4 months of contemplating their belly button) that I had a two year degree in nursing and not a four year degree. More papers, more letters, more documents.

And we repeated this process a third time in August 2011, when they decided a second time that my nursing degree was not thorough enough, and I needed more training in psychiatry and medical/surgical nursing. (Yes folks. . . I want to work as a midwife. This does not matter to them).

It was only after an article appeared in the local paper in November 2011, featuring my case and the long process, that SAFH quickly responded—with two decisions this time—the first time they even bothered to consider my midwife application. They denied both applications, stating again that I needed more training for a nursing license, and claiming that I since I didn’t document any of the patients I had seen as a midwife student, I could not be licensed as a midwife.

In January 2011 I sent in 45 pages documenting the over 800 patients I saw as a student midwife, clearly labeling how each patient fell into each category—prenatal, postpartum, high risk, birth, newborn. SAFH’s response, in February 2011, was essentially “there’s no way to prove these are real, as they don’t look official”. No letter from them stating “this looks like a lot of patients—could you somehow verify them.” No contacting my advisor or the chair of the midwifery department, despite offers from them both in the numerous documents they prepared on my behalf. It was almost as if they said “Shit. This is a lot of paperwork that we don’t want to deal with. Let’s just send it on to the appeals board. That’s what they are there for.”

So, on to the appeals board we go.  An independent appeals board, or so they say, and so we hope. More documents, more paperwork, more verification, more last minute panicky emails to my advisors, and several sob sessions on our living room couch, wondering what the fuck I was thinking getting myself into in this kind of situation.

I am not going to be so arrogant or so naive as to think that everything I learned in American nursing/medical training translates directly and smoothly to nursing and midwifery care in Norway. I acknowledge that some training time would be both valuable and justifiably required. But to go back and enroll myself in a university again for both degrees, and ask for credit on classes I’ve taken? I just might be so arrogant as to say “I’m not going there.”

Tomorrow is a big day. The appeals board decision will likely make those final hurdles clear—just how high they are, how many more, and how far away the finish line is. And then the toughest decision of them all: is it all worth it at the finish line? Do I even bother finishing this race? Or will I decide, “you know. . . I was prepared for a 100m hurdle race, I could suffer through a 400m hurdle race, but I will never do the steeplechase. I’ve got better things to do in life than run around this track a dozen times, jump over barriers and land in water on the other side, and end up soaking wet and exhausted at the end”.


  1. good luck. We're rooting for you!

  2. Emily,

    You have got so much going on right now, I am TOTALLY keeping fingers crossed for you! I'm not sure that really helps, but I don't know what else to do... Damn, you have been doing so much and getting so much accomplished these last months, it makes my head spin. Then you have to deal with all these bureaucratic types - not fun in ANY language - and it's like, crap, 'can you (potential) dip-wads just slow down a minute and take a look at all I have accomplished, hmm? Would that really kill you?'

    We had a fantastic vaca. in Norway. As you may have noticed, didn't get in touch while we were there - 17 days over Easter, and yeah, I know that sounds like a a lot of time but Easter is busy and we had about 47 days worth of plans. We always over-plan our time, but on the flip side, we never, ever over pack. Very good time had by all, our Norwegian friends keep asking when husband is going to apply for all the engineering jobs we hear that Norway wants filled, but man, it's scary!

    More about us later. BEST. OF. LUCK. TO. YOU. You are seriously my new heroine, you've got balls of steel!

  3. It's Wednesday today, so you might be in the middle of your meeting right now. I am wishing you so much luck and the very best outcome. I heard a news blurb just the other day about how Norway needs nurses so badly---WTF?? I know how discouraging it can all be and how depressing it is when it seems to be going tits up, but keep thinking positively and don't let 'em see you cry, girlfriend. (Crying in private is, of course, perfectly fine.) Here's hoping for good news. Mange store klemmer. xxoo

  4. good luck! sometimes it's just so difficult here.

  5. I hope you had a great and successful day in Oslo today!

  6. It's Thursday now, and I am really hoping with all my heart everything went well for you. Good luck, I am sure you gave it your all.

  7. Emily,
    I normally would write 'hope everything went well' but I know from personal experience it probably didn't. It took me almost 10 years to get my norwegian nursing license!
    I'm a EU citizen but got my AA nursing degree in the US. I had 15 years of experience working as an RN in the US!
    But the good news is: set up the 6 weeks clinical practise in psychiatry, 8 weeks in med/surg, and 8 weeks in adult nursing. Nobody will help you with this, certainly not SAFH. Just go into the hospital and psych facilities in your area and set it up yourself. That's what I did, people were very helpful. It will help with your Norwegian and it will familiarize you with working as a nurse in Norway.

    Take the norwegian nursing exam.......it's a doddle compared to to NCLEX. I studied for a summer and took the test when it was offered in the Autumn. It's essay style. I've only worked medical floor so i thought I would not do well with questions related to pediatrics, OB/GYN etc. Most of the questions were related to geriatric care. I think you could choose the questions you wanted to answer. How to take care of a CHF patient or someone with COPD etc. I just waffled away and wrote as much as I could as fast as I could.
    I was required to do 6 months clinical practice (you work for FREE, no Norwegian could believe that I was required to work for free! In Norway!) but ended up getting away with 3 months because the avd. leder thought it was crazy a well qualified nurse was working for no pay.
    If you do the clinical practise and take the exam you will save yourself a lot of time and trouble and stress.
    It's ridicuous that SAFH will not recognize an american bachelors degree in nursing. American nurses training is among the best in the world. The norwegian nursing education on the other hand is not. I have an article from Aftenpost a few years ago on UiO. Nursing students who had not shown up for courses got their qualifications. Some students had done their clinical at a barnehage because the university could not get its act together with regard to clinical rotations!!
    The premise of SAFH is faulty. The fact that experience is given no consideration is not logical.

    1. Thanks for your insight. Dana contacted me with some of your replies.

      Thankfully, there is no longer a "norwegian nursing exam". I would *not* be looking forward to that. Seeing that SAFH's next to final "vurdering" was that I needed to do the 6 and 8 weeks of clinical, but their final decision (the one that the sent to Nemnda) was that I needed to re-enroll in a nursing program, I'm actually hoping that Nemnd reversres the decision and says to do the requirement for clinicals!

      We kept pursuing the appeals process because, on one hand, we had the time. My language skills were not good enough to begin working, so I figured "what's a few extra months of waiting", when I still had a ways to go on my language. Now that they require the Bergenstest to take the Nasjonalfag kurs, I still have even further to go, unfortunately.

      And I agree, the fact that years of experienc (even 4 years working in a NICU "just with sick babies") counts for nothing--NOTHING--is ridiculous.

      Thanks for your reply. I really do appreciate it.