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Study abroad gives perspective on the professional role

Published: 9 September 2016

In recent years, the interest for study abroad has increased among students. To inspire and disseminate information the Department of Health Sciences organized the annual International evening for students.

– I've got to see and learn a lot which I would not have if I had not traveled abroad. For me it has been very valuable, says nursing student Lisa Rapp, who went to the Faroe Islands for her clinical education in the elderly care.

During the International evening lectures were given by students who have made parts of their education abroad. The purpose of the evening is to inspire more students to go abroad. 35 interested came to listen to the lectures from Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Communication is important

Students who undertake parts of their education abroad will experience other countries' ways of working and will thereby get a broader perspective on the future professional role. After four weeks in elderly care in the Faroe Islands the nursing student Indre Spiridonova experienced how important the communication with patients is.

– I realized that I need to become better at communicating and learn that there are other ways of communication than language, such as body language and music.

– Even in Sweden it can happen that one can not speak verbally with each other, but with body language or other means can establish contact and trust, says nursing student Lisa Lundström, who went to Iceland to experience the elderly care.

Differences in the professional role

Lisa Lundstrom also noticed clear differences in the professional role between Sweden and Iceland.
– There were two staff on every patient, and the patients were in focus all the time. If they wanted to go out shopping for a whole day, that´s what they did. They could also have animals in the house. The nurses worked more medically technical than here at home. It was very instructive to work under completely different conditions than those found in Sweden today.

In the Faroe Islands Lisa Rapp discovered that the nurses do not have as much responsibility as in Sweden. The nurses were with the patient the whole time and had a good overview.

– The disadvantage of this approach is that there is time to do preventive work, says Indre Spiridonova.

Working in a global environment

Just a few years ago, only one or two students placed parts of their studies abroad. Nowadays choose about 10 students per year from the department to go abroad on scholarships, such as Minor Field Studies. The Department is working actively to support the students for international mobility, while the long term goal is to improve the quality of integration of global perspectives in the educations.

– We want our students to become independent actors, operate globally and be able to work anywhere in the world. Studying abroad broadens perspectives and they get a greater understanding of other contexts in their profession, says Päivi Juuso, international coordinator at the Department of Health Sciences.