First week of placement (Week 5)

Sorry this is a bit late, I had a busy weekend and didn’t get a chance to finish writing it…

A British Nurse on a Finnish Respiratory ward and life in between (well at the weekend)…


The Lapland hospital where I am based

The Lapland hospital where I am based

So I have now done 1/6 of my first placement. The first half of the week did not go so well as there was a considerably low level of communication from my mentor, making it near impossible for me to nurse at the level I am used to. During my second day with him I took out a cannula (the needle you have in your arm when you’re on a drip) and helped another patient have a shower. Translation from Finnish was very little and my role was 90% observatory and following him around, 10% nursing. Without being too obvious about it I tried to show him I wanted to/could do more as a third year, but nothing seemed to change throughout the 7 hour shift, which felt like it lasted a week! But I kept smiling as much as possible and tried to not show my frustration.

The rest of the week improved as I worked with two other nurses. They naturally spoke to me more and explained things which was a great help. By the last day I felt that my second mentor understood my goals as a third year, understood what I could do and had things he wanted to teach me whilst I am on the ward. He had also worked in Bristol many years ago at the same hospital I have done previous placements, so I felt much more comfortable and confident that he understood my role as a nurse coming from England, and his English and explanations were much better. Communication from other nurses on the ward is sadly very low, if at all. I put it down to the Fins being shy as people and not confident speaking English. Which is a shame and I feel quite out of the loop most of the time as they go on having their own conversations. But there is a final year Finnish nursing student who talks to me a lot and uses me to practice her English, which I am more than happy to help her with 🙂 !

Over the week I have realised how different nursing is here compared to the UK and how different it will be to my other placements. Even though the patient needs are the same and the daily routine resembles a little of what I do in the UK, almost everything is done differently. It’s almost like a different job with the same title. The nurses on the ward seem to do much less than English nurses-many more coffee breaks, a bit of computer work (it’s all electronic) and it’s more relaxed with time. There is much less social care given by nurses in regards to assessing patients care needs at home and if these need to change as a result of their admission. They refer patients to the social worker if that’s needed and then the social worker does everything. Which as a positive, the roles are more specific and nurses can therefore get on with their job. I have seen no physiotherapists on the ward making sure patients stay mobile, or helping assess mobility needs. The doctors are rarely seen except for ward rounds which not everyone attends, and nurses don’t do a lot unless directed by the doctor. Of course, there’s an awful lot of information I miss because I don’t understand all the Finnish conversation, but I pick up a lot from observing. It is hard to get a realistic expectation about how much I am going to be able to progress in my clinical skills here because some days could be great with many clinical opportunities, and others not so. I am hoping my second placement will enable me to do more clinically as it’s surgical and I enjoy that area much more than medical wards anyway. But I will get out of it as much as I can, and will certainly learn how to adapt my job to nursing abroad!

Now the more fun part of the week :)…

There was a big student party in Kuntotie, the student village where I live, on Friday evening, which was a great time to see my new friends after the whole week. They all have lectures at the uni during the week so spend lots of time together. It was good to socialise again. We heard the forecast for the northern lights were good, so at half 10 a few of us walked up the hill to watch and wait and…….. the Northern Lights danced for us! Yes, two weeks in and I have been able to experience this amazing phenomenon. We spent two hours waiting for it and it lasted 10 minutes, but it was worth it! There were little patches, or ‘smudges’ of it as we called them, over the two hours but it all kicked off just after midnight for the 10 minute show. I felt like a kid being so amazed and excited at what I was watching in the sky I just kept giggling and gasping in awe as the lights danced! As did the others (Barbara and a Finnish guy we’d met called Eetu (Air-too)). He said it took him three years to see the northern lights (which didn’t fill us with much confidence that we’d see any in the three months we are here), he’s been here 5 years now, and last friday was the best he’d seen! So we (certainly I) was well chuffed!! I didn’t manage to take any pictures but below is a google image which is the closest I could find to what we saw.

An example of the Northern Lights. The lack of colour is due to the gases in the earths atmosphere not being ignited by the suns flare that is responsible for the phenomenon.

An example of the Northern Lights. The lack of colour is due to the gases in the earths atmosphere not being ignited by the suns flare that is responsible for the phenomenon.

The following evening about 50 exchange students went into the forest to bbq and watch the northern lights again. BBQing on fire pits in the forest is a very Finnish thing to do and was great fun. About midnight we went up the hill again, but sadly the Lights did not appear for us, though we had a lovely hour star gazing and caught sight of a few shooting stars!


Can you spot me! (I am to the left of the middle with the purple jacket)


A few snaps of the BBQ, sorry they're blurred

A few snaps of the BBQ, sorry they’re blurred

On saturday Barbara and I found the swimming pool and did a few lengths before enjoying the sauna. We then went to enjoy a smoothie, did a spot of food shopping and ended the evening as above.

My sunday was spent out most of the day enjoying meeting wonderful members of my spiritual family! It came about by meeting friends of friends in Tampere before I came to Rovaniemi and met up with one of their friends (Pilkku) who had also just moved north to study. I hope that wasn’t too complicated to follow! I had only met her once before being at this brunch! It’s awesome to travel to places where the language and culture is different, and yet find people who you feel so comfortable with and welcomed in by all because everyone loves Jesus! We had a lovely brunch and I chatted to different people (everyone was fluent in English) especially the host who was from Australia and moved to Finland 9 years ago with her Finnish husband. And I met a guy who’s done as much travelling as I have! It was great to be able to talk about all the countries we’d each visited, with the aid of a trusty global map, and compare experiences.

A few snaps of Kuntotie from the roof of my block. I won’t show you how I got up there, I’ll just say health and safety here isn’t as strict as the UK!

SAM_0906 SAM_0904 SAM_0903


I’ll try and be on time next (this) week!


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