On Thursday, they and 14 Philippine nurses working at surgical wards of the Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUCH) will graduate as nurses from the Laurea University of Applied Sciences.
In fact, the nurses will be doubly qualified, for they all already have a nursing degree from their home country. Now they are also completing the Finnish university of applied sciences nursing degree programme.
“Normally this is a three-and-a-half-year degree, but we have completed it in a year, and also learned the language in the process”, Torres explains.
Combining work and studies has not exactly been easy, however. The students have had clinical onsite training four days a week. On Tuesdays and Saturdays they have been in school. In addition, they have had their fair share of homework. Sunday has been the only day off.
At times the students have been so tired in the morning that they have found it hard to get out of the bed. Fortunately the roommate has been there to provide support and motivation. In this respect the Finnish colleagues have also been of help.
“I do not know how students who don’t have a support network can cope. Our competence and opinions have really been valued”, Duque explains.
Duque has been training as an instrument nurse in an operating room, but anaesthetic nurse Torres has also dealt with patients in the post-op recovery room. Primarily the patients have just been curious about her.
”Many of them ask where I am from and seem astonished to hear that I have only been here for a year and I already speak Finnish.”
When the women receive their Finnish nursing degrees on Thursday this will certainly be a cause for celebration also in their home cities of Manila and Laguna in the Philippines.
Duque has a 10-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter. Torres has two daughters the age of 5 and 10.
The children were the most important reason for the women to come to Finland. Before Finland both Duque and Torres worked in Saudi-Arabia.
“The money was good but we were unable to bring our families there. We do not wish the children to grow up separated from their mothers”, Duque says.
The women’s contracts with HUCH will continue until next spring. After that the future is open. Both would prefer to stay with HUCH permanently. They also hope they will be able to bring their families into Finland.
“The ethos here is superb”, Torres says.
What about the graduation party? Where is that going to take place?
“We have been wondering how a graduation is celebrated in Finland. We do not know. Perhaps we will organise a party with friends later on.”
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