Hello ladies and gentlemen!
It’s already five months of our arrival back to Finland. Life has continued in Jyväskylä like before we left abroad and sometimes I’m thinking if I really have lived somewhere else in a meantime. The exchange time is still something that comes to my mind once in a while and I feel happy to have experienced that all. Our occupational studies have continued here in Finland this spring and I’ve been able to notice what I’ve learned during my placement in renal and surgery wards. So now is good time to look back to the time in Britain and in placement.
There you go: Some kind of summary of my placement
During first weeks I had two educators (later only one) who instructed me to hospital practices and rules. I got an good induction and was able to ask anything from our team what I didn’t get or handle in a first place. In that team, where I carried out my placement, were 3 to 4 occupational therapists, OT assistant, instructor (and physiotherapists) . I was able to visit with every one of them in a wards and see what they do and how they work as individuals. It gave me large picture of working in renal and surgery wards and I was able to pick up the best ways to work on my own.
Because I was an exchange student it took a while to get stuck to real work in wards, so first few weeks I followed and helped my educators and other workers, read a lot patient’s notes and fact about their diagnoses. As soon as possible that I felt I’m confidence enough with speaking English I wanted to accomplish initial interviews with real patients and write patients’ notes. The feeling after first interview completed by myself was amazing! I really did it! I did by myself as much I was allowed because it was only way to get rid of the uncertainty towards myself.
Everyone encouraged me to carry out occupational therapy tasks and improve my skills all the time. Luckily the atmosphere was positive for me and for students generally because I had to ask a lot things all the time either because of the language or just general practices that I weren’t familiar with. My educators also encouraged me to do lot of written reflections about the situations where I had been.
Area of renal and surgery
Wards where our team was responsible for were three renal wards, male’s and female’s surgery wards, gynecological and urological wards. This is area where occupational therapists don’t work in Finland so I really got an unique experience. First I was terrified and very skeptical to have to do my placement there but I have to admit to myself that I was little bit stupid with all my prejudices.. I really learned a lot about OT there.
In renal wards patients had mostly kidney injuries and diabetes that had brought them to hospital, most of them needed a dialysis few times a week. I read a lot about kidneys during my placement to understand what the patients are going through. I was also able to participate in renal day (got more information of renal diseases and dialysis), in education about dialysis machine and saw an operation where one lady got a neckline for dialysis (little disgusting but super interesting!). In surgery wards there were patients who had had all kind of operations in abdomen. I tried my best to understand all the operations some how and get the full picture of patients’ situations.
What occupational therapists (and in the end also me!!) did there:
- Initial interviews (to gather information about patient’s previous mobility and independence, home environment)
- Assessments (transfer assessments, washing and dressing assessment, kitchen assessment and equipment assessments e.g. toilet frame, kitchen trolley)
- Considering if patients need help in home, package of care ‘POC’, calling social services
- Calling to patient’s next of kin
- Practicing e.g. transfers, washing and dressing when patient recovering from operation
- Home visits (in some cases)
- Discharging patients (that was meant to happen ASAP or someone for sure wasn’t happy!
Hospital where I worked.
I’m not sure if I just had good luck or I was just so nice (must be this one..) or my educator always managed to pick up all the nice patients for me, but yes, the patients were mostly very kind for me and a language barrier wasn’t problem. Most of the patient were just excited that I was from that remote cold country called Finland! Among the patients diversity was large (many had Indian back ground) and sometimes cultural differences were huge just in daily living. I also got my own case study- patient so I was able to link theory to practice through his case.
People/co-workers in the hospital
Professionally thinking, occupational therapists did lot of multi-professional working. With physiotherapists (who worked in a same team), nurses, doctors etc. OT’s opinions were clearly respected and they knew lot of their patient’s situation.
And not so professionally thinking. British people have polite manners they always ask you “Are you alright?”, “How was your weekend?” etc. or say always “See you in a bit!”. First it felt fake but to be honest that clearly makes people more open to each other also at work. Especially my educator Paul was an amazing guy, he made me feel welcome when I first arrived to the hospital and supported me through my placement “journey”. The whole occupational team was very friendly and even though I didn’t always felt very talkative in English I still didn’t feel awkward around them. It was awesome to experience how they celebrated farewells and Christmas at work together. For my farewell we ordered Indian food to work! (So I finally got famous Leicester’s Indian curry) I wish to have that kind of working team in a future. A big heart to that team in Leicester.
Christmas decorations at the office (and rugby player on the wall, of course).
First weeks in Britain were hard because of English. And when the hospital period started after three weeks spend in UK, it didn’t get any easier. All abbreviations, British ways to say things and super fast speaking. It took lot of energy to try to understand everything and also communicate. But in the end that first time when I noticed at the lunch break that I got someone’s joke and laughed truly (not just because everyone else did so), it was a great moment. So not to frighten anyone, it’s hard but it’s totally worth it. I’m still not speaking or writing very fluent English but it doesn’t stop me using the language anymore like it did earlier. And now when I’m doing my thesis, reading researches and article is much easier!
All in all, I really recommend to do a placement abroad. It’s scary to jump out of the comfort zone but you get so much out of it! Britain is good place to go if you really want to learn English, occupational therapy and meet nice people! (About the city.. I don’t miss Leicester that much, just to mention) I also recommend Ireland and Dublin to visit, like Mirva told in a last post, we had an amazing trip there. Now we are waiting our international friends from Britain to come over on May, that’s going to be awesome too.
Cheers mates! (Sorry about the length of the post.)