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Excitement in Abu Dhabi – reflecting on a new education role 

By Joanna Andrews

Main article image: FCHS Midwifery team – Fatima College of Health Science Midwifery team, (from left to right, Maeve O’Connell, Gina Sosa, Joanna Andrews, Karradene Aird) 

This article continues the ongoing series of articles on setting up a new Midwifery programme in Abu Dhabi.  Now six weeks in, Joanna Andrews shares her experience of being the fourth member of the Midwifery team at Fatima College of Health Science (FCHS).  She highlights the mixture of labs, theory and practice that is being used to support the student midwives in their journey towards midwifery registration and the BUZZ of excitement regarding midwifery in Abu Dhabi. 


I have always wanted to practice midwifery outside of the UK, however, as it happens, life gets in the way.  I became aware of the start of the midwifery curriculum in Abu Dhabi from watching the updates from Dr Gina via LinkedIn, then Dr Maeve and the commencement of the course in September 2022.  I was inspired by their journey and followed them both on LinkedIn.  In 2023, I was presenting a poster at the ICM conference in Bali, I knew they were going to be there, and I looked forward to meeting them in person.  On the final day of the conference, I managed to pluck up the courage to speak to Dr Gina and Dr Maeve; they were lovely, I sent my CV to Fatima collage, and fast forward 6 months, I am the fourth member of the FCHS midwifery team! 

FCHS Midwifery team – Fatima College of Health Science Midwifery team, (from left to right, Maeve O’Connell, Gina Sosa, Joanna Andrews, Karradene Aird) 

Joining FCHS was a big move for me, I have never been to the Middle East!  The BSc Midwifery programme is based at the Al Mafraq campus, one of the 4 campuses of Fatima College.  At Fatima College, the curriculum is based round the US higher educational credits system, where students have theory, laboratory, and clinical courses (equivalent to modules in the UK).   

The first week at Fatima college was a student registration week, which gave me some time to plan the courses over the next semester.  I was asked to support Dr Maeve in the complex neonate third year theory course; this is a subject I am particularly interested in so was happy with this allocation!  The team had decided to plan the curriculum using the block system, so Maeve and I would teach all the complex neonatal course content in a 4-week theory block to enable the students to have a block clinical placement in the following weeks.  The course is designed to reflect a spiral curriculum with the common year with nursing students, followed by learning about physiology of pregnancy, labour and postpartum in relation to the women, fetus and newborn in their second year, a focus on additional care of the woman and newborn in the third year and consolidation of practice in the final year including research, education and preparation for becoming a competent midwifery practitioner (Bachelor of Science in Midwifery – FCHS).


NFLS – Facilitating Newborn Life Support training for third year student midwives using American Heart Association algorithm  Part 5: Neonatal Resuscitation | American Heart Association CPR & First Aid  

Going into my first teaching session, I was a little nervous, but the students were great.  The third-year cohort has 7 students, and I am used to teaching larger cohorts.  I made the sessions engaging by using a variety of different teaching methods to cater for different learning styles including discussion and reflection, creating posters and quizzes.  The sessions went well and as the weeks progressed, I started to learn more about the cohort on an individual level which, on reflection, would have taken me a lot longer in a larger cohort.  The students also have a mid-term MCQ exam, which is a great way to formally assess the students’ progress.   

The third-year students are now in their clinical placement, so Dr Maeve and I are supporting the students on placement.  Our role as ‘clinical coordinator’ includes being on-site in clinical practice, to support students in applying theory to practice and working closely with practice partners in ensuring an effective learning environment. It has been a privilege to hear all the wonderful experiences students have had during their placement where they demonstrate daily kindness and compassion in supporting families in practice and it is a joy to watch the students’ progress in their knowledge, skills, and competence.  We currently have student placement allocation within 2 maternity hospitals in Abu Dhabi, however we are looking to expand on this and engage in a variety of maternity healthcare providers to enable students to have a breadth of placement experience, which is very exciting! 


Sept 2022 cohort – This is me with the September 2023 cohort following 4 weeks block theory of teaching before they go out to clinical placement.  

Moving forward  

At FCHS, we have a designated maternity simulation and skills lab, however, we are expanding and improving the resources we have.  I am looking forward to working with our internal and external partners on this project. 


NFLS Arabic – The midwifery team work closely with our practice partners and enable us to utilise their simulation equipment.  This is me at the Education center at the Corniche Hospital, Abu Dhabi SEHA | Hospitals. 

In the UK I am trained in the Newborn and Infant Physical examination (NIPE), however, in the UAE Systematic examination of the newborn is completed by a medical practitioner. We are in the early stages of scoping out the potential implementation of the examination being undertaken by midwives. 

I am excited by the expansion of the BSc Midwifery programme; I have seen lots of interest in midwifery, we recently had an open day and there was certainly a BUZZ!!  There are moves to potentially having the course run from the other campuses in addition to Abu Dhabi so that more students can access the BSc Midwifery programme.

Open day 2024 – Our second-year students showcasing Midwifery at FCHS recent open day. 

As Dr Gina said in the previous update, it takes a village, and I am so grateful for the women and their families that have so kindly received our students, the midwifery team, wider FCHS colleagues, students, and practice partners in their determination, kindness, and support. 

Exciting times are ahead! 

Joanna Andrews 

Senior Instructor of Midwifery, Fatima College of Health Science, Abu Dhabi 

March 2024