International midwifery project wins UK award

Monday 22 May 2023

Winners of the RCM Award
A collaborative network created by lecturers from RGU and partners in Switzerland has won a national award from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The International Student Midwives Network (ISMN) was launched by academics at RGU, Maria Velo-Higueras and Emily Miscioscia from the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Paramedic Practice, and Silvia Ammann- Fiechter and Petra Graf Heule, from the ZHAW School of Health Sciences in Zurich.

On Friday night (19 May 2023) it won Outstanding Contribution to Midwifery Services: International at the annual RCM Awards in London.

The quartet of female lecturers created an international network that crosses borders, bringing students from around the world together to share experiences and best practice to ultimately improve care for women and babies both here in Scotland and across the many network countries.

The ISMN launched during the pandemic and aimed to make international midwife experiences accessible to as many students as possible, thus widening the access to those that may not have the luxury of travelling abroad due to aspects such as financial, family or health restraints.

Over two years on, the network now has student midwife members from Italy, Germany, Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland, and Lebanon with plans in place to expand to Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia too.

Maria Velo Higueras, Midwifery Lecturer at Robert Gordon University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedic Practice, said: “The International Student Midwives Network was created in 2020 in partnership between Robert Gordon University and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, and has slowly but steadily grown to the current six participating institutions across Europe.

“Using virtual tools, ISMN offers an inclusive and accessible way for student midwives to be exposed to international and intercultural experiences from their own home.

“Both the academic team and the students are proud of how ISMN has become an avenue to connect; learn from each other; broaden horizons; celebrate diversity; and recognise the common goal that joins us as midwives: to help women and families thrive with the best possible start in life.

“Students have told us that participating in the network enhances their midwifery identity and sense of global midwifery community and we’re delighted to see how the RCM award is recognising their passion and dedication, which is what truly brings this network to life.

“For the academic team, this award validates and recognises the value of international collaboration in strengthening midwifery at a global level. We are very pleased to have received the award and it reinforces our determination to continue expanding this network across the globe.”

Emily Miscioscia and Maria Velo-Higueras Emily Miscioscia and Maria Velo-Higueras

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This is a bold and visionary scheme on a grand and global scale. Sharing ideas and best practice is critical to improving care for women not just here in the UK, but across the world.

“Good midwifery care saves lives no matter where it is being delivered. This wonderful multinational scheme is helping our future midwives across the world to do that. It is also helping students to improve their leadership and communication skills, both of which are crucial in taking the profession forward. Such a great project and one that all four should rightly be proud of.”

The network regularly meets online to cover a range of important and diverse topics, from the socio-cultural aspects of midwifery to birth trends, feeding and more.

Moreover, the ISMN also host an entirely student-led annual virtual conference where student members decide topics, arrange speakers and take charge of organising the entire event. The theme for its third conference is ‘feminism, physiology and women's rights’.

Top image shows L-R: Emily Miscioscia and Maria Velo-Higueras, RGU lecturers; and Fiona Gibb, RCM Head of Education and Associate Lecturer at RGU.

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