A placement at a hospital in Finland gave Laura more learning opportunities than she ever expected…
I was recently selected to experience nurse training abroad in Finland as part of the Erasmus Exchange Programme. It was an amazing opportunity and I couldn’t wait to see how practice differs in another European country!
The programme offered so much more than I expected. Finnish nursing students train for three and half to four years compared to our three years and many learning opportunities were made available to me, including procedures that are not included in our training in the UK.
I learnt both male and female catheterisation, how to cannulate patients and how to administer and manage intravenous medications.
To be able to carry out these nursing procedures in the UK nurses have to complete additional training after they finish their nursing degree. With the supervision and guidance of my excellent mentors in Finland I gained confidence each time.
“To be able to carry out these nursing procedures in the UK nurses have to complete additional training after they finish their nursing degree”
I was very fortunate to have a variety of clinical placements whilst at Satakunta District General Hospital where my clinical placements were based, including day theatre and recovery, a trauma and orthopaedic ward and the emergency unit.
While in the emergency unit I took part in a major incident training exercise which was a fantastic opportunity as I got to watch all the emergency services working together.
I thoroughly enjoyed what each placement had to offer, staff were very friendly and eager to teach. I felt very much part of the team due to the wonderful mentors I had.
“I believe we nurse with dignity and privacy well compared to Finland”
It was interesting to compare my own clinical experience back home, and I believe we nurse with dignity and privacy well compared to Finland.
I often witnessed doors or curtains being left open while nursing procedures were being carried out and I would tend to close doors in the background to ensure dignity and privacy were maintained.
I believe this was purely down to cultural differences. When questioned patients were not concerned as long as they were being treated. The Finns are renowned for their love of saunas, visiting even public saunas in the nude, perhaps this explains the cultural difference?
At Satakunta, staff themselves seemed to be better cared for than staff in the UK. At least twice a year each clinical team participates in team bonding exercises and every member of staff is given an allowance towards these activities.
“Nurses are well respected within the multidisciplinary team and every nurse I came into contact with loved their job”
Where I was located staffing levels were very good, nurses are well respected within the multidisciplinary team and every nurse I came into contact with loved their job.
I settled well into Finnish life, learning basic conversational Finnish so that I could interact with my patients, colleagues and friends better.
I took up cycling and I had the chance to visit Lapland, Helsinki and the gorgeous St Petersburg in Russia, places I had never been before. I made some lovely friends, both in Finland and from Swansea, all of which will be friends for life.
This whole experience has given me much more confidence, I feel more prepared for when I qualify next March. I am a better person and a better nurse because of this opportunity and highly recommend it to any nursing student!
Laura Coghlin is third year nursing student studying at Swansea University