Nursing student Maureen Lukito-Alkkiomäki: "New language and a direct pathway to working life"
Maureen Lukito Alkkiomäki - originally an experienced graphic designer from Indonesia - is a Nursing Degree student at Metropolia’s new TOKASA programme. The idea of the studies is to provide the students the language skills required of a registered nurse working in Finland. The teaching languages are Finnish and English.
Some years back Maureen was thinking of studying another degree. She checked and compared several other higher institutions and degree programmes. First she was not thinking of nursing as a profession. But then she realized that there is a lack of nurses in Finland and in western countries in general. In addition, two years of covid lock-downs gave Maureen a lot of time to think about her values and estimate what she really would like to do in her life.
“As a graphic designer, I was sitting the whole day in front of a computer. I started doubting if this is something I want to do all my life”, says Maureen.
Although Maureen has spent 12 years in Finland and has a Finnish husband, she uses mostly English at work. This was the main reason why she started looking for a higher institution where she could study in English and at the same time improve her Finnish language skills. She didn’t want to study in English only, nor in Finnish. It was a coincidence that she found the TOKASA programme, decided to apply and successfully started her studies in 2022.
In her degree programme, all her fellow students have a different level of Finnish. Her classmates are from all around the world – Vietnam, China, Africa, Poland, Croatia and Philippines, just some countries to be mentioned. In addition, they are from different age groups - it is indeed a multi-cultural and versatile group.
“We are here for the same goal: we all want to learn Finnish. Some of us have had difficulties in finding a permanent job in Finland. As a group, we are super close and support each other. Everybody is motivated in learning the nursing job and the local language”, says Maureen smiling.
Finnish language is integrated in the nursing studies
Maureen is happy that there is one specific language teacher for the degree programme students. She adds that the Finnish language plays an important role throughout the studies. The language is always integrated in previously discussed topics so that the students get familiar with the nursing vocabulary. For example, in the morning the group can study how to take a blood pressure test, and in the afternoon they are rehearsing the work-related vocabulary. Maureen explains that they have a lot of homework - both in Finnish and nursing - where they put in written form what they have practiced and learned earlier that day.
“In my opinion, the language studies have been very useful. When you know the nursing terms in Finnish, it also helps you in the nursing profession. Of course we also have normal language classes with grammar, but the right terminology really is the thing that helps you to succeed in the field”, says Maureen.
As the students have different levels in Finnish, they are sometimes put in smaller language groups. This is something that Maureen appreciates, as well as that the students’ voices are heard. They can openly discuss with their teacher and exchange ideas on how they want to learn and what kind of support they would need in their language studies.
Direct pathway to working life
Maureen has already had two hands-on work placements: the first one took place in Senior Centrer Kontula and the second one in Meilahti at HUS Abdominal Center. Maureen is content that even as a nursing student, it is possible to do gig work in hospitals or other healthcare institutions.
For the work placements, Metropolia makes the contracts on behalf of the TOKASA students. Metropolia also communicates with the organization beforehand and explains clearly that the students are still learning language and nursing skills. This is something that Metropolia does in the background, but it eases the co-operaton: There are clear goals, and the student has psychological safety as the organization knows what can be expected from him or her.
“We have everything a nursing student could wish”
Maureen explains that the everyday life at the Myllypuro campus is really nice and positive.
“I am really proud of our premises! It is a brand new campus and we have everything one could imagine. The simulation hospital and other teaching facilities help a future nurse to prepare for his or her career. For example the operation room is exactly the same as in the real hospital environment. You could even conduct real surgical operations there”.
Future work plans include nursing and art
Maureen ponders that the beautiful thing with nursing is that it is a job you can do anywhere in the world. However, she will most likely stay in Finland after completing her nursing studies in 2024 as her spouse is from here.
“When it comes to future work, kidney and pancreas transplant nursing or mental health interest me. There are a lot of opportunities in the nursing field, but on the other hand, it would be nice if I could combine nursing with my other artistic passions”, Maureen says.
Maureen doesn't have further study plans yet but is thinking that Metropolia’s Master’s degree in Creativity and Arts in Social and Health Fields could be an option. The aim of the programme is to strengthen the professional competences needed when promoting health, well-being, inclusion and a sense of community in society through creativity and arts.
A competitive degree for those interested in nursing and Finnish language
Maureen would suggest her degree programme for people who have a passion for people and would like to do nursing in Finland, but who are lacking the Finnish language skills. Then TOKASA is a solution for him or her. In this programme, language teaching is fully integrated into the Nursing curriculum.
Maureen thinks the most rewarding thing during her studies is that she has really improved in Finnish.
“I have even done presentations fully in Finnish. This is something I would normally never do, but the ”friendly pressure” has worked! There is a certain safety in our group, the atmosphere is supportive and psychologically safe. It is really amazing to see that you can do a lot of things”, rejoices Maureen.
Study in bilingual Nursing programme in Helsinki and get a job in Finland
The purpose of the bilingual (English and Finnish) Nursing degree programme is to train nursing professionals, who are capable of working in health care services in Finland using the Finnish language. Applicants must have the minimum of B2 level in the English language to be accepted to the programme. There is no requirement for Finnish language skills.
On Myllypuro campus in Helsinki, you will be studying in globally unique learning environments, including simulation spaces for an ambulance, emergency care and reception, midwifery, an operating room and intensive care. You also get to practice pharmacotherapy and nursing of children, etc.