Nursing student Nina: "Medicine was my hobby, in Laurea I can change it into a profession"

“The simulation hospital workshop in Hyvinkää campus was an unforgettable experience. I had a chance to act as a real nurse and it was a safe place to practice my skills”, says Nina Semenchenko, a second year nursing student.

Nina’s interest in Finland started some twenty years ago, when she was in school and they read “Kalevala”. “I remember the idea of the silver moon and the sun made of gold amazed me and stayed with me for years. Later on during my studies I always thought about Finland as a country of both high tech and beautiful nature”.

About ten years ago she got a chance to come to the country and start her new life. She came to Finland from Ukraine with a diploma in International Relations and Translation and started her second degree in Business Administration with a specialization in communication. “But already at that time I was fascinated with medicine and so I took some Open University courses in nursing in Laurea. I wanted to try, if this could be something for me”, says Nina. Soon her hobby became her new study field when she decided to apply for a Bachelor Programme in Nursing in English provided by Laurea. Now she is in her second year of the studies.

One of the reasons to choose Laurea was the Learning by Developing teaching methods offered here and the practical approach of the studies. “It is important, because it gives us the possibility to try out what we have learnt in class and we have a chance to implement our knowledge. The practical approach helps us to better understand our own field of studies. For example you might be afraid of dealing with wounds, but then you go to a practical placement and you get the possibility to try it out and you can see that it wasn’t scary at all”, says Nina.

There is one more thing she particularly liked and wished to have more: the simulation hospital workshop in Hyvinkää campus. “It was an unforgettable experience. It is a hospital with dolls instead of real patients and a safe place to practice our skills. You have a chance to act as a real nurse, you get an excellent feedback from your peer group and you get a chance to notice all those little but crucial things”, says Nina. For example, you clean your hands, but suddenly you unconsciously touch your hair, so you have to clean your hands again. “You can analyze all those situations and it is easier to remember the mistakes”, she adds. 

Be curious and learn Finnish

She encourages students to be curious and to ask for more. In her opinion quite often students are too shy to ask, they just follow the instructions. “It’s a pity, because only by asking questions you have a chance to broaden your knowledge, to see things from different perspectives and discover more possibilities. Dare to ask and dare to be curious. Remember that Laurea’s teachers are here to help you”, says Nina.

She has yet another tip for the prospective students interested in Laurea’s nursing programme: “Learn as much Finnish as you can if you plan your career in Finland”. Already from her own experience she can tell, that without the language working in health care and social care sectors might be quite challenging. “In our English programme we learn all the English terminology and in a work place it is very hard to communicate with Finnish nurses, who use of course Finnish vocabulary. I would highly recommend to take as much Finnish language courses as possible. Unfortunately often students finish with an intermediate level that is not sufficient for the job market”, she says and also advises to take summer jobs in health care or social care services, because this is a perfect way to practice the language skills. “In my job placement I use mostly Finnish”, says Nina.

In Laurea you can follow your passion

Before she started the nursing programme she has developed a huge interest in psychiatry and neuroscience but she didn’t want to go to a Medical School and study to become a doctor. She decided nursing is the right choice for her.

“Laurea helped me to understand that a nurse in Finland is not just a nurse. If you want you can take extra courses and then you will be trained as a nurse but with qualifications comparable to what is called a physician assistant in the US, Canada and the UK, a profession somewhere between a nurse and a doctor. Nurses in Finland have a huge variety of responsibilities and this is something I didn’t really expect”, says Nina.

She wished to work in a field of neuroscience in the future, become a nurse in neuropsychiatry or maybe combine nursing work with research. But Nina doesn’t exclude different career paths. “I might also specialize in anesthesiology. During the anesthesiology course I’ve developed a huge interest in this field. And that was thanks to our wonderful teacher. Her love and passion for the subject went viral”, smiles Nina.

Nina shares one more crucial advice for future nurses: “You should study a lot, to the perfection, because in this profession you cannot do things half way. You should put yourself in patient’s shoes and think, would I like if a nurse knows just half of what she is supposed to know? We take responsibility for people’s lives and this sense of responsibility should be always in our mind”, she stresses.