Teachers from Finland, Ireland visit Washburn

Mandy Miller

The Washburn University School of Nursing hosts two exchange teachers as a part of an exchange program.

The exchange process started with assistant professor, Shirley Dinkel making a trip to Finland to teach for two weeks. Upon Dinkel’s return, two other teachers, Hugh O’Donnell and Sirkka Eramaa, visited Washburn for a week-long stay. During the stay, the teachers gave lectures to the students in the nursing school and allowed for a unique learning experience.

“The purpose of this exchange is to teach community public health to schools around the world,” said Dinkel.

Hugh O’Donnell, a professor from Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland with expertise in mental health was the first to visit Washburn. This was O’Donnell’s first time being a part of this particular exchange.

O’Donnell first recognized the variation in the way the nursing programs are set up.

“The programs are slightly different from the point of entry. Students spend a common year of study and then specialize in an area,” said O’Donnell.

Whereas here the students get to touch base on many several areas of nursing.

O’Donnell said aspects of nursing in general are different in Northern Ireland than in the United States.

“In Northern Ireland, there is more nursing treatment in the home and health care is looked at as more community based rather than hospital based,” said O’Donnell. “This exchange is important because it gives students insight to services and the range of services provided.”

Sirkka Eramaa is a professor visiting from the Mikkeli Polytechnic School of Health Care in Savonlinna, Finland. Eramaa brought her experience in community health care with her.

She hoped to use this exchange trip to gain a more detailed understanding about the American health care system so she can teach her students about it. The two systems are not similar at all because Finland has a national health care program.

Eramaa has a good base knowledge of the many types of health care that are provided in several countries because she works with students from all over the world.

Eramaa said one of the differences that she notices when she looks at the two systems is that Finland tries to focus more on preventative health care and then specialize if the problem persists.

“I hope to become familiar with your nursing facilities and get acquainted with the staff,” said Eramaa. “The better we know each other, the better we can support the students during the exchange.”