From Aberdeen to Zurich: international midwife quartet win UK award

on 22 May 2023 RCM Midwifery Awards RCM Annual Midwifery Awards Student midwives Education

A project for student midwives that stretches across international boundaries has won four midwifery lecturers from Scotland and Switzerland a national award from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

Maria Velo-Higueras and Emily Miscioscia from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, and Silvia Ammann- Fiechter and Petra Graf Heule, from the ZHAW, School of Health Sciences, Zurich, picked up the Outstanding contribution to midwifery services: International, at the RCM annual awards in London on 19 May.

The quartet created an international network of student midwives - the International Student Midwife Network (ISMN) . This brings students from around the world together to share their experiences, learning and best practice, and to improve care for women and babies here in the UK, and in all the countries in the network. A Lancet series in 2014 found that having midwives educated to international standards could avert more than 80% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths, and improve over fifty other health-related outcomes.

Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the RCM, 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 ISMN was started over two years ago during the COVID pandemic. The aim was to make international experiences accessible to as many students as possible, widening access to those that for family, financial or health reasons cannot afford the luxury of travelling abroad. It has since taken on a life of its own and is growing strongly. It now has student midwives from the UK and Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Lebanon, with more in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australia hopefully joining soon.

Maria and Emily, said: “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 reinforce our determination to continue expanding this network across the globe.”

The network meets online at least once a month with meetings covering topics as diverse as socio-cultural aspects of midwifery, birth trends, perinatal mental health, and infant feeding and many more. It also organises an annual international conference which is completely led and organised by the students who decide on the conference topics and arrange speakers. The conference theme for 2023 – the third virtual conference – is ‘Feminism, physiology and women's rights’.


To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected].

Notes to Editor 

For more information on the RCM awards and the full list of winners visit Updated LINK HERE.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team.