Stina Modig was a midwife and an educational leader. She has meant a great deal for making midwifery an academic qualification. She had a broad range of international contacts while also protecting the profession’s history and traditional knowledge base.
Maria Kristina Modig, generally called Stina, was born in 1925 at Sunne in the province of Värmland. When she was only nine, she moved with her parents to Nacka where her mother Maja worked as a laundress. Stina Modig, who was an only child, was always faithful to Värmland, despite her early move to the Stockholm region. This was made possible through the annual summer holidays that she spent at her maternal grandparents’ and with her many cousins on her mother’s side. Her parents got divorced when Stina Modig was in her late teens.
After finishing school in Nacka, Stina Modig applied to and was accepted by the nursing college Statens sjuksköterskeskola in Stockholm. She was encouraged to apply to the specialist section of the nursing programme: the midwifery course in Stockholm. The midwifery course only existed at that time in Stockholm and Gothenburg. As a newly-qualified nurse and midwife, Stina Modig started her working life as a childbirth midwife at Södersjukhuset in Stockholm in 1951. In 1956–1959, she worked as a ward sister on Södersjukhuset’s childbirth and gynaecology wards. In her work as ward sister, apart from healthcare and leadership, were included the supervision and support of the next generation of midwives. Several former students have borne witness to Stina Modig as the good role model for carers in women’s health in childbirth situations (pre-care, childbirth care and aftercare) and other situations related to the competence fields of a midwife. She was also seen as a good role model in meetings with the students: “she was like one of us”.
Her assignment as a supervisor stimulated Stina Modig and in 1960 she qualified as a healthcare teacher after which she started her work as a teacher at the state educational facility for midwives of that time. That education was later transformed to being a county-governed college (1977) and after that to an educational programme at Karolinska Institutet (1998).
In 1973, Stina Modig became the director of studies for the midwifery programme and it was from that time until her retirement in 1988 that she was to lead the education forward as an academic education, also internationally, not only as a pedagogical leader but also as a visionary. Her engagement for women’s health and her solid experience from clinical ward work were of great help to other teachers, among other occasions when students wanted to avoid the teaching element “insertion of an intrauterine contraceptive device” with the motivation that this was the equivalent of abortion. After a talk with Stina Modig about her experiences of young women’s vulnerability and complications in connection with illegal and unsafe abortions, the students’ unwillingness was most often transformed into greater understanding for elements of the education beyond strict childbirth healthcare. Her pedagogical engagement was evident in both the clinical and the theoretical aspects of the education.
During the latter part of the 1970s, it was considered urgent for healthcare educations to be linked to research in order to qualify as programmes at universities and colleges later on. Stina Modig was one of those leaders who encouraged and supported the teachers who showed an interest in doing research. In this way, the midwifery education in Stockholm came to be the first in the country with teachers who had taken their doctorates. Stina Modig, who had early on been in England on an educational scholarship, also gave her full support for the increased internationalisation of the midwifery education and for international cooperation both in the programmes and in research. This resulted among other things in the midwifery education in Stockholm initiating cooperation and networking with several African midwifery educations in Zambia among other countries and also Asia, as early as the 1980s. Parallel with her visions concerning future educational programmes and the professional midwives of tomorrow, Stina Modig cared a great deal about the profession’s history and traditional knowledge base, which can best be illustrated by the clinical training structure in which the students practised life-saving measures like for example terminating a childbirth with forceps or assisting a complicated seat birth.
Stina Modig had a great social engagement through the church to which she belonged, along with her professional engagement. As a board member of the Baptist Church’s social council, she and her friend and colleague Märta Johansson arranged and led several activities like for example lunches for refugees and children’s activities.
After her retirement in 1988, her church activities became most important for Stina Modig, although she continued to follow the development of the midwifery educational programmes with great interest by attending all the doctoral thesis presentations by midwives.
Stina Modig died in February 2020. She lies buried in Nacka Cemetery.