Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Amerikansk jordmor får ikke jobbe (American midwife doesn't get to work)

The news report on my 2 year long battle with SAFH and Helsepersonnelnemd was finally aired last night, first on the Oppland and Hedmark district news on NRK1 at 18:40 and then later in the evening (or so I'm told) on the national news around 9pm. It was replayed the next morning on NRK2 and also apparently turned into a radio report! To watch my NRK news debut, you may click here!

I will try to write a transcript of the report, but in the meantime here is my translation of the article that is printed below the news report.
The little family came to Lillehammer and Norway and it was the child-friendliness, ski life and nature that brought them here.

Erik got his dream job as a bioloist while Emily, as an American midwife, was not good enough for Norway. Therefore she is working as a health care assistant.

“It’s not a bad job, and I know there are many people who would want it. I’m glad that I have a job, but this is not what I wanted to do. It is a little depressing, “ said Stange to NRK.
Has delivered several hundred babies
Her dream was to work as a midwife. She has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the Norwegian-American St. Olaf college, and in addition she has a master’s degree as a midwife and 12 years of job experience.
Emily has also taught both nursing and medical students.
In addition to the formal education, which was approved by NOKUT () she has taught nursing and midwife subjects. She is also a member of the international honor society Sigma Theta Tau because she graduated with top grades.
In six of her 12 years of experience as a midwife, she worked in a hospital and delivered several hundred babies. But, that’s not enough to work as a midwife in Norway.
She wishes she had researched even better before her family decided to move to Norway. “I spoke with midwives, nurses, friends and every said that ‘Norway needs midwives!’ They said that a master’s degree from the United States is actualy more education than what Norwegian midwives have,” she said.
Must begin her education from the beginning
In the course of the last two years Emily has been in contact with the Government authorization office for health care personnel to become authorized to work as a midwfe.
She appealed her case to the Government appeals board and a decision finally came before sommer: she must begin her nursing education from the beginning.
What did you think? “I didn’t think anything. I just cried,” she said.
In the decision from the appeals board they say that the American nursing education has too little theory and clinical practical training when compared to the Norwegian nursing education.
The director of the appeals board can’t comment on a specific case, but says they must take into account patient safety and that they handle all the cases the same.
“In this case our decision was completely in accordance with decisions we have made in similar cases. It does not stand out in any way,” says the director for the Government appeals board, Øyvind Bernatek.
According to statistics, Norway will be lacking 28,000 nurses and at least 200 midwives in the next 20 years. Elisabeth Hals, a midwife at the Lillehammer Hostpial, says the ned for temporary midwives is huge.
“Both with vacations and sick leaves. . . the need is big, “ she said to NRK.
Odd that she must do it all from the beginning
Emily Stange from the United States wonders if she should do more education (editors note: actually, I don’t wonder about this. I simply won’t do it.) She has contacted the College in Gjøvik where they educate nurses.
Study and research director Gunn Rognstad has seen the case and doesn’t understand why Emily doesn’t get authorized in Norway.
“The education she has from the US in case of academic level the same as a bachelor’s degree in Europe. It seems a little strange that she must begin everything from the beginning,” she said.
Rognstad has now sent a letter to the Appeals Board, in which she has asked how/what she can arrange for Emily.
For Emily and her family, their lives are put on hold. She has no desire to begin again with an education that she already has.
“If this doesn’t straighten itself out, and I have to begin my education from the beginning. . . we’ll move back to the US. I will not throw away 6 years of education and 12 years of work experience.”
NRK will follow the case further. 

Erik and I are quite pleased with the report and looking forward to the follow-up news report today and whatever else might come from this. Several people have contacted either me directly or the reporter to voice their support and frustration, or to share their own stories. It's lovely to have the support, but what we need now is someone willing to step up and take it one step further.


  1. Hej Emily

    Great report! I speak only a little bit norwegian but your norwegian is really good! I wish you good luck for your work as a midwife in Norway. I hope everything will be fine.
    Lykke til!


  2. Wow, Emily, din norsk er kjempebra! I'm so impressed (and a tad jealous but that's all about me, not you, LOL). Great news report. My husband and I got so mad watching it because it made it absolutely clear that, 1) you're completely qualified to do the job; 2) midwives are needed in Norway; and, 3) it's so, so f-ing stupid that they've put you in this position. I'm glad you've already received some feedback and I hope this leads to a positive change. It would be a huge shame if you and Erik have to move because of this idiocy. Fingers crossed for good news!!!

  3. good for you for letting this be known and good for the media for reporting it. this is such a huge problem here and i dont understand it. hell, so many norwegians even go to the US to receive education because it is valid and good there.

    keep fighting...i PROMISE something good will come of this. i have had similar issues and am working in a cafe with my MBA and two undergrad degrees. i have had the job offers here but UDI doesnt let me keep them. i keep telling myself that im meant to do something very special here and my time will come. i know the same for you ;) keep your head up!

    1. Thanks Megan. I hope things work out with your situation, too. It seems like everyone here (expats, that is) has to pay their dues for a few years, as much as it sucks to hear that. IN the meantime, keep working on your Norwegian and enjoying Oslo. What else can one do, right? Arg. . .

  4. Don't give up. I'm from Norway and live with my wife (who is from Austin TX) in Minneapolis MN, pretty close to St Olav. This just makes me mad to see what you have to go through. My wife is a nurse and we have wanted to move to Norway , but we are scared the same thing would happen to her. Keep on figthing, the system will eventually change in your favor. It looks promising that the Director at the nursing school sent a letter. I sent your nrk link to my uncle (retired doctor) in Oslo to get his opinion on it.

    1. Tormod, There's no guarantee she would go through the same hell I've gone through. There are currently two American educated nurses (although they *are* Norwegian) in my class in Oslo, and they were approved by SAFH with very little trouble. That is probably what makes me the most frustrated/upset/hopeless about the whole situation--it is so unjust, so arbitrary, and so inconsistent from case to case.

      If you do decide to try it, here are a few things she could do to make it easier: start applying for authorization long before you plan on moving. Over a year, perhaps. If she can learn Norwegian and pass a Bergens test (offered in the US at various locations), even better. I've heard it's easier to pass in the States. If she doesn't have any work experience with geriatrics/ the elderly or in psychiatry, see if she can work a little there (before she applies for authorization, so this is on her resume/CV). Those are two of the areas that SAFH seems to think we Americans are lacking.

      Everyone tells me to keep fighting, that it will work out, but I am not so hopeful. After two years, I am completely out of energy and desire to keep this up.

    2. And I would add one more thing, Tormod, and any other American nurse who is thinking about getting authorization in Norway: if you do not have a "standard" 4-year bachelor's degree in nursing, I would not even try to get authorized. i.e. a 2 year associates with 2 years added later for an RN but no bachelors, or a bachelors in something completely unrelated with an "accelerated nursing degree" or a master's in nursing but no bachelor's in nursing. . . those kind of "non-traditional" approaches to a Registered Nurse license in the US is completely incomprehensible and frowned upon in Norway.


    Du har vel sett denne saken allerede, men poster den likevel :) Håper ting ordner seg!!

  6. Tusen takk Bente! Vi hadde ikke sett det enda, men har vært i kontakt med mora til Sarah Fossum for mange måneder nå.

  7. Emily, jeg må bare si at du er utrolig tøff, og inspirende! This report really puts your situation into perspective--I have been following along via your blog but it was not before now that the unfairness has really sunk in. I am actually grateful that I came to Norway at a younger age, and didn't have to "do-over" 6 years of education! Ridiculous! They have to see the errors of their ways! THEY HAVE TO! You and your family deserve better.

    Ikke gi opp håp!
    And do let me know if you guys are ever in the Hamar area :)

    P.S. Greta is even more aborable live than in your pictures!

    1. Thank you Lisa!
      I will definitely let you know if we ever make the long, tedious one hour journey to Hamar!

      And thanks for the link to my blog on your blog--that was very sweet of you.

  8. Good Luck! I hope with the news coverage this changes the outcome. Coming from Little to Big blog.

  9. Thank you Frau ;)

    It looks like some politicians are picking up on the story, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

  10. I'm so sorry for all your troubles! It's kind of scared me away from trying to move to Norway... but I keep remembering the mountains and dreaming. Good luck!!!