Nursing in Hungary

This is my story of exhange

Back in Finland

I have now been back in Finland for a little over a week. Many have asked how was it? It is hard to describe.It was an experience I would not change for anything. It was a great opportunity to learn and see. I can say that if I  have stayed in Finland I would have gain more nursing competence that I did in Hungary. Nurses did not let us to do that much and then there was problems with communication or somebody did not like foreign and they asked me to stay our of their way. In the end, when Inês left home, I really started to miss home. Of course after staying for a week at home I started to miss Hungary 😀 .

Hospital life was different. Obviously the hospital was lacking resources, but there was something different about nursing as well. They do earn less (a much less) and they have lack of staff, more severely than we do here in Finland. I can imagine it is stressful and wearing to work 12 hours or more in a ward with 40 patient and just two nurses. The thing that worried me was the lack of interest and lack of proud in how nurses carried out their tasks. I am not saying it was all of them and I am only talking about the hospital I was practicing in, there are many more in Hungary.

I feel privilege to study nursing in Finland. Our teachers and mentors in school and in hospitals treat us with respect (at least most of them). In Hungary I often felt that I am second class, not good enough to do even the easiest tasks. I felt useless. In Finland we are encourage to ask questions, the problem is more likely to be not asking enough questions than other way around. In my practices in Hungary nurses found questions intimidating, they thought that I was questioning their expertise. It was weird for me when practices mostly are based on open discussion. At least that is the way I learn.

It was not all bad, if I did not learn as much in Hungary about nursing as I would have in Finland, I did learn more about life (sorry, sounds corny 🙂 ). It was not my first time abroad and it was not even the poorest or most exotic place I have ever visit, but it was the first place that I got to experience the everyday life of locals very close. It was the first time in my life that somebody was racists against me. It was eye-opening experience and it made me appreciate Finland (good-quality tab water!! How lucky are we?!).

I also learned to let go. When you take care of a small orphan child for a day s/he crawls under your skin easily. It does feel bad to leave the child at the hospital and never know what happened after you left. Still I cannot loose my mind over it. I have to leave him/her in the hospital. It is impossible to adopt all of the orphans of the world and safe them.

I would not try to do so many practices, if I did something differently. I would do home care -practice in Finland. I cannot say that I recommend Nyíregyháza as practice place without a doubt. It was not easy, nothing works, but everything will be alright. Like I said I would have learned more about nursing in Finland, but I would have missed out on an amazing experience and an adventure. I would not have met those wonderful people that made my stay worth it by staying at home.



Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Back in Finland


I saw three different pediatrics wards; intensive care and two general wards, other one was for small children under one-year-old and other one until 18-year-old. Due to lack of space children over one-year-old were also placed in the small children’s ward. In pediatrics students were not let to do anything unless there were some orphan without anyone else. In that case it was us students that took parents place.

In the small children’s ward fathers were not allowed to enter the ward, apparently because of the breast-feeding mothers. We were told that in Hungary usually child(ren) are taken care by mother, and father doesn’t really take part of the care. Not sure if this is quite the truth or just a personal opinion of one. I saw fathers in the hospital with their children.

Intensive care unit was like one could imagine, quite a place. It is heart breaking to see tiny 5-year-old child after hit by a car or tracheostomy done to a child suffering from severe asthma. I think it was easier for me, because I did not quite know the severity of the injures or illness, so I just wanted to think that they will get better and survive.


Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Pediatrics

My home for three months as pictures

Home care

I have been doing home care practice at the same time with practicing internal unit. Day there and day here. Fun, it does not get boring in here 🙂 The thing is home care is very different from what we have in Finland. I am still not sure is there a misunderstanding, because of language barrier.. So what we do in home care practice is not much. It’s more like doctor’s/specialist’s appointment in hospital or health center and we sit and watch. I have tried to ask to they have home care as in going patient’s homes and to be honest I don’t know. Every answer is different. At least we had young female physician, who explain, patient problems, diagnosis and what she ordered for treatment, to us.

Interesting part was that she suggested alternative treatments for patients, including for example herbal teas and meditation. I was amazed, but apparently (if understood correctly) there is physicians specialized in alternative medicine in Hungary. This treatment was recommended for patient with flu, just to make clear that they are not trying to treat cancer with herbs. I think is much better to tell patient to drink herbal tea for flu caused by virus than give him antibiotics to shut him/her up. Not that, it would ever happen.. right? 😉


Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Home care

Differences how I see them

Well the first differences between nursing studies in Hungary and Finland is the length of the studies, we study 3,5 years (some might even try to squeeze it to three ;)) and Hungarians study 4 years. (NOTE! Hungarians find joke: “Oh, you are from Hungary? – You much be hungry.” as funny as us Finns find joke: “Finnish are finished”. My advice: avoid that if you don’t want to look like and total moron.)


School and hospital together decides the placements to practice for the students. Of course there are exceptions for this. In hospital we go as a group of students and we don’t get specific tutor nurse in the ward. In first placement we were four students, now we are two and we follow who ever nurse takes us under her wings. Has also happened that nurses don’t want students with them and then we just hang-around. Luckily that doesn’t happen too often.


There are student tutors working in the hospital whom the students see few times a day. Usually once shortly in the morning and in the afternoon students have meeting for about an hour with the tutor. Every meeting has different topic, but usually different students are teaching others about different procedures. For me these are extremely boring, because they are held in Hungarian. I am still learning to sleep my eyes open.


We might work in the same ward for the whole practice or we might not. Last practice we spent in the same place the whole time, but now we are changing in the half way and I mix my home care practice with internal medicine also. Sounds confusing? It is, but I have learned to chillax and go with the flow. They are trying their best to provide us the practice placements we need, but we cannot go without other students.


Hungarian nurse students are also more observers than us. They don´t document or plan their days like we have to do in Finland. They document the measurements they take, but not much more. All the documenting is made by hand, in the case you were wondering. Basically students in here take responsibilities than Finnish students. They are not allowed to work as nurses during their studies, but they have to do practice in summer so, in a way, they need to work for free.


I cannot say which is the best way to too things. We Finns maybe learn better the whole picture what happens in the ward, but then again Hungarian rehearse every year the basic nursing skills by the book. In the end we have the same knowledge and ways of doing things, only difference is that our hospitals in Finland are more modern and wasting more money. 😉


Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Differences how I see them

We started our internal practice on last Monday in neuropsychiatric ward. It was overwhelming. Patient are suffering illness affecting their mental health, for example brain tumour has lead to dementia. Also for many different reason; epilepsy, suicidal attempts, Parkinson’s disease and different kind of infections affecting the brain or nervous system.  Very interesting ward to practice, but the tricky part: I work with patients who suffers from mental disabilities and don’t understand the word they are saying. Well of course that’s a lie, I understand few words, but definitely not enough. 🙂

First day was even scary, as you can imagine, I had no idea what was going around me and why half of the patient are tied down to the beds. (At least it felt like that.) I got spooked sh*tless when one of the patient sneaked behind my back and started to massage my shoulders while I was having my morning coffee.

Hardest part still was to face two patient we had. Both suffering from very rare and horrible diseases. In my short career of nursing I have witness patients passing away and accepted that as a part of the human life, but never have I seen this kind of endings. It was stopping and made me think that maybe there are times that we should be able to provide relief by euthanasia. I am not still not made my mind about the question, but witnessing that much of inhuman suffering makes you think.

I came home that Monday night and burts into tears; i was tired from 12 hours of work and overwhelmed because of the patients. On Tuesday things were way more easier. I think I just needed to cry out all the things that has been going on for last months. I heard from Viola that I wasn´t the only foreing crying after seeing that ward, but I was crying for totally different reasons.

Like I said Tuesday was a different story and I really like this ward. Nurses are all so nice to me, we speak mixed Hungarian-Enlglish-Body-Sing -language. 😀

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa



Some statue in Vienna


Soviet style hospital (not in use anymore)


With Viola and Inês at Esztergom Bazilica


Trails in Birkenau


Old town of Krakow


If you don´t know this one, return to your history books immediately.

If you look at the map to see where Hungary is situated, you easily noticed that travelling around Eastern Europe is quite easy from here. So long weekends and autumn break have gave us a chance to see places I would have never travel otherwise. Well to be honest I don’t think I’d never travel to Nyíregyháza if it wasn’t for the exchange. 🙂 So far we have discovered, of course Hungary: Budapest, Debrecen and Tata, but also some other places, Krakow in Poland for start. We chose to travel there, because I and Inês had always wanted to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration-camp. Old town of Krakow was the most beautiful old town I’ve ever seen, so definitely worth a visit. Auschwitz is also place worth to visit, but for totally different reason. Can’t really describe the experience; very dark and inhuman place.


We visited Vienna (Austria) and Bratislava (Slovakia) shortly. We spent one day in each. Visiting Vienna made the contrast to Eastern part very clear. Bratislava was totally torn apart by Soviet Union, so it is not that beautiful city any more. Travelling and being here has been a like a intensive history lesson. We took part to walking tours (like proper tourist should) every city, except in Vienna, and learned so much: very eye-opening experience.


On autumn break we travelled also to Tata, West part of Hungary to visit Viola’s family. West and East part of Hungary are almost like day and night. West is richer and you can see it. People dress differently, they speak English and the atmosphere is different, more welcoming. Viola’s family hosts us amazingly. Her mother cooked us delicious meals three times a day and her father shuttled us around to see sights. Tata was voted to be the most romantic destination in Hungary last year (if I remember correctly). It was lovely, situated between two lakes, having castle and ruins located on the bank of the lake. If you visit Hungary, forget Budapest – go to Tata (and don’t mixed with Tatabanya, they are different cities ;)). Kidding, Budapest is also one of the favourite cities of mine.

Mixed feelings

I have now been in Hungary over a month. Time flies. Firsts weeks were hard, especially in practice. It didn’t help to have credit card taken by ATM and some bad news from Finland at the s
ame time. Got my new card today! What a feeling! It is always a struggle to settle in new country, after ’the first crush’ fades off. We had a lot questions with no answer and our schedule was very unclear. Being the only person not to understand Hungarian at the ward gets on your nerves too. I mean I have my lovely Viola with me to translate and other students are awesome as well, but some jokes don’t just translate and it is kind of hard not to be able to express yourself in a ground.

It’s not all bad.I have learned more Hungarian, I try to learn more all the time. Even-though one lady told me that I sound like two-year-old with my pronunciation, but hey that’s the way to break the ice and make them laugh! Cannot take yourself too seriously when trying to pronounce one of the hardest language in the world.

It has been also a struggle to do things your taught not to do.. Wearing the same gloves, washing the face and downstairs with the same sponge, palpate the already disinfected site before taking blood (Note! I’ve only seen this, never agreed to do it myself). Some differences are old school and that’s the part I am excited. We made urine testing with mixing chemicals into urine and seeing what will happen to the colour or to texture. EGK is also taken a little bit differently, but the basics are the same, I have seen how they measure bleeding-time making a small puncture in the finger of patient. So basically I’ve been able to try and learn things that I don’t have change to do in Finland.

Urine testing with Viola

Viola and Orsolya

Our group also went to see operations behind the windows. We were able to follow six different operations at the same time. That was pretty awesome. I was mostly following hip replacement operation. Even-though I am not planning to work in operation theatre, it was still good to see what patients go through, to be able to understand better the recovery process.

Last day of surgical practice we got to spent half day working in laboratory; taking blood examples. Best part of practice so far! Viola told that when I get needle on my hand my face brightens up. 🙂 I do like to poke people with needles. To be honest the best part of that is to see the blood in the tube and feel you succeeded.

Taking blood

Of course Erasmus is not all about work-work-work. We have done some travels when we have opportunities. Let’s face it; there is nothing to do in Nyíregyháza for weekends and day-offs. So we travel. Last trip we took to Krakow, Poland. Next week is autumn break for students and because we can not go to hospital without our tutor-student we have a break as well. Tomorrow we are travelling to small town called Tata. That’s where Viola’s parents live. We are going to spent the week there and make day-trips to Wien and Bratislava.

Kommentit pois päältä artikkelissa Mixed feelings

First impressions



I arrived in Budapest, Hungary, at midnight on Friday the 13th. Everything went smoothly and I arrived to my hotel safely. First night I slept in a nice apartment for only 50 Euros. Night-life looked busy with people, but this time I had to hit the bed to get up early.

Next morning I seek my way to the railway station and bought the ticket from the machine, which only spoke Hungarian (obviously I got help). I took an intercity train from Budapest to Nyíregyháza. (No, I still cannot pronounce the name correctly, but I have three months time to learn.) Nyíregyháza is small city with population of 116800 inhabitants in North-east of Hungary, 252 kilometers from Budapest, the capital. But that’s enough with the statistics. 

I thought that our practice would start on Wednesday, but it didn’t. When I am talking about us I mean me and Inês, another exchange student from Portugal. Instead we had English lesson. Rest of the week we spent in Budapest. Budapest is from the other world compared to Nyíregyháza. East side of Hungary is very poor compared to west and it shows. In Budapest we went to museum called House of Terror and took part in free walking tour for tourist to learn something about Budapest and the history of Hungary. 

Practice started on Monday. I am practicing in surgical orthopedic ward. We work four days a week, only morning shifts and not on the weekend. Working hours varies from 8 to 12 hours. Hospital is old and so is the equipment and most of the methods as well. There is two bottles of hand sanitizer in the ward that I am working in and they don’t change gloves between patients. Patients need to bring everything from home including soap, sponge, food, towel etc. They get buns and butter from the hospital and some lunch. In every room there is 2 to 6 patient and no curtains between, but patients don’t seem to mind. We use portable curtain when necessary.

I have learned to master the sphygmomanometer. We measure blood pressure with it every day from every patient. Us students haven’t let to do much. They just let us watch, but maybe with time we get also to do something. I have only taken blood example once and given some subcutaneous injections.

In the ward and in Nyíregyháza they don’t really speak English, but I was lucky to get student tutor, Viola, to be with me the whole semester and translate everything. She also teaches me some Hungarian. All the patient are sure that in three months I will speak fluent Hungarian. I am not as sure as them, but I have picked up few words like ’leg’, ’hand’ and ’blood’. I have also learned phrase ” I am Finnish”. 😀 I get a cheer every time I manage to repeat something in Hungarian.