The United Adventure

studying, practical training, placement, occupational therapy, University of Northampton, hospital

Category Archives: Yleinen

Better Late Than Never

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

Student’s role

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.)


Summary about the placement in trauma & orthopaedics

Good evening fellas,

Me and Sunny-Maria have been in Finland for three weeks now. Christmas is long gone and the year has turned into 2016. Sometimes I catch myself thinking if we even were abroad for the whole autumn. Everything is just so familiar here and nothing’s changed. I guess that’s just Finland.

A little summary about my practical training in trauma & orthopaedics. I guess Sunny-Maria will write her experiences in renal and surgery ward later. As an occupational therapy student I got to do for example these things:

1. Initial interviews

It was week 2, when my educator suggested I could do my first initial interview and gather the basic information about the patient. I just laughed to her and then realized she was serious. But then thought why not, I’m here for learning and I learn best by doing things. My educator was beside me when I went to see the new patient. After the interview I had an awesome feeling and was a bit proud of myself – it wasn’t that scary after all! Later on I really helped my team through stressful times by doing initial interviews on my own.

If the patient wasn’t able to answer the questions, I did the interview with the next of kin or the manager of the residential home. I had to make many phone calls to collect the information or ask the criteria for discharging the patient back to the residential home.

2. Post-op AMT’s

Abbreviated Mental Test had to be done to every patient with fractured neck of femur. The doctors did it before the operation and OT’s after the operation. It is a 10 question checklist, and we can evaluate if the operation has affected to their awareness of time, place etc. or if they have delirium.

3. Went to home visits with co-workers

After seeing quite many British houses I have to say that the Finnish houses are more easy to modify. We don’t have that often very steap steps to the upper floor or carpet on the whole floor. Home visits were a good way to learn and use reasoning: could the patient go home, what changes needs to be done prior going home. For example there were fireplaces working with gas and we had to give the gas safety letter if the person was going to live in the room with fireplace.

4. Meetings with the multiprofessional team

We had every morning a handover, where we discussed (well, briefly talked through) about every patient: why they are in hospital, what is the rehabilitation plan, do they need occupational therapy, are they medically fit for us to see etc.

5. Splints

There were just few patients who needed a foot-drop splint. Trauma and orthopaedics OT’s weren’t the ones who made those – there was a specialist OT for that. But I had the chance to help the specialist to do splints. So interesting!

6. Reasoning the next step for the patient

Trauma & orthopaedics is the place where the rehabilitation process starts. We had to get the patients discharged out of the hospital as soon as possible. There were also discharge nurses for that. And they really knew how to do their job, asking us “Why on earth the patient is still here?”. Occupational therapist’s opinions about the condition of the patient matters a lot when thinking about discharge. We are a part of the decision making whether the patient is going to rehab, home, hospital, residential/nursing home or to a relative’s place. But we can’t make the decision over the patient’s opinion and preference, even if we know what is best for the patient. If they decline for example rehab, we have to tell them what might be the consequences and explain why going to the rehabilitation is the best option. Sometimes OT’s have to bear that burden about the patient declining.

So now when thinking back..

..What I would like to bring to Finland from UK: The warm and friendly team, who cares about you. Everybody shared their life and were quite open, and if someone had birthdays, engagements – whatever – they really celebrated it big! In Finland you’re the one who bakes a cake on your own birthday. When it was close to my last day, a physiotherapist assistant asked me what kind of cake I want. And then she baked it! And we had a big fuddle: food and chatter [UK, dialect, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Bedfordshire: A party or picnic where attendees bring food and wine; a kind of potluck]. I’ve never had such a great farewell party! (Of course we didn’t bring wine to the hospital, haha.)

Finally, few photos from our trips:


The luggage we had to bring back to Finland. Oh boy, never want to experience that again. We paid £30 for a taxi to take us to our hostel, which was about 5km away from the railway station. London traffic, gotta love it.


Views from Sky Garden in London.

IMG_5319 (1024x768)

On our way to Wicklow Mountains in Ireland. We really fell in love with the Irish people and culture 🙂 This is from P.S. I Love You -bridge.

Overall the experience was worth it – definitely! Professionally it gave us challenges we would have never faced in Finland. I guess now we are more open, brave and ready for all the challenges and jobs in the future. All the international friends we got from all over the world is super, and we’ve been invited to Croatia and India for example. And guess are we going or not! (Just have to collect some money first). So if you doubt whether going to abroad or not – just go! You have nothing to lose.

All the best,


Are you alright!

We’re finally alright, thanks. Couple weeks ago we had a loong week at home because we both fell in sick and had (still have) very persistent flu. Because of the flu I got also experience English health care from different perspective as a patient. For me seeing the doctor (private consultation) on the other side of the city in a walk-in centre, getting a prescription and an antibiotic cost 80 pounds (more than 100 euros) – I keep my fingers crossed that my travel insurance is worth it. My visit in the walk-in centre was quite interesting because this was my second time when passed an area in Leicester where I looked around and found myself being the only ‘white person’. That’s something that doesn’t happen in Finland. In Leicester there are more than 50 percent of living here are foreign or from ethnic minority. So we see people from sooo many cultures, countries and religions every day!

I have met especially people who have Indian background and one of the funniest meeting happened on one Monday in the supermarket. I  had a annoying cough and I decided to go to buy some syrup for my throat. There I was reading those packages and couldn’t make a decision (surprise..) what to choose. Then one salesclerk asked me if I needed help. We started to discuss about flu, medicines, cultures, Finland, Aki Kaurismäki, Nokia, diversity of Leicester etc. After that the salesclerk asked my name and I answered “Sunny” because that’s the way people call me here. The clerk looked me curiously then turned and showed his name badge “Sunny”. So his name was also Sunny and he is a man. Of course I explained how my name is written really and said it in Finnish, but the moment was so amusing that we both laughed for a good while and shook hands like “Nice to meet you Sunny! My name is Sunny.”. He also asked me for a drink later and I laughed on my way to home that not everyday a namesake ask you out. Later I heard that Sunny is very common Indian name so he isn’t the only namesake I’ve here.


For us it has looked that all these cultures can live here in harmony. The truth can be different but that’s what we have seen and it’s very positive. We have also been very happy of our international friends we have met especially in Northampton. It’s just so fantastic that people can be from India, Dubai, Krotian or Finland and still we all laugh at the same things and can share unforgettable moments together. So before we fell in ill we were seeing those nice guys from all over the world in Northampton for few days and had a good time there. We were watching fireworks for 5th of November (big day in England), dancing in a club and we also pop in a Indian parade which was for Diwali (Indian new year).


We have only ONE week our placements to go and it will go so f-a-s-t. At the moment we’re little bit stressed about PPLAT and all the assignments we have to complete before our last day… piece of cake (or maybe not). Where comes to my mind that British people love cakes! And sweets. And coffee (yep coffee, the claim that tells British drink mostly tee is a big hoax, be aware!). To be honest we are waiting for going back to Finland, hopefully there is snow when we arrive! But before that we’ll go to see what’s other side of the see, in Ireland, green moorlands? And our plan is also check how London prepares for Christmas!

xxx Sunny

See you soon Finland!

November already?!


Oy mates,

Long time no see! Time just seems to fly in Leicester. Now we’ve been one month in our placements and learned so many things! Don’t actually know where to begin but I’ll try to add just occupational therapy and hospital stuff here. So here’s some thoughts:

1. The hierarchy of the workers

This is very different from Finland’s style. When OT’s graduate, they are band 5 OT’s, and have to gain experience in different working places. They work about one year in each and then can decide where they want to specialize. After they’ve gained experiences and worked for many years, they can “level up” to band 6 and band 7 – and eventually come “Senior Occupational Therapists”. Above all this, occupational therapists have assistants and technical inctructors who help OT’s doing many things like washing and dressing assessments, saving things on computer, doing home visits etc. The working roles are different on each band. The upper band OT has more responsibilities than the lower one. It’s funny that usually the OT assistants (OTA) and occupational therapy technical instructors (OTTI) have more working experience (15+ years) and still they have less responsibilities and less salary.

I think we should have this kind of system in Finland as well. You can’t gain enough experience in university and decide there in which area you want to work. At least I, Sunny-Maria and loads of our friends feel like that. It would be nice to gain more experience in different working places. In uni you just don’t have enough practical training, even though there is lots of it.

2. British hospital world just loves abbreviations!

It’s a completely different language out there. People don’t just write their paper medical notes with abbreviations, they also TALK using abbreviations. How much information would you receive from a sentence: “The patient is #R NOF, so have you sent section 2 and filled the NWB pathway?” or “Pt can FWB and OT Ax will focus on Tx and considering POC.” or “Pt is happy sharing information with NOK, MDT and NRS.” This is the world we’ve been to the last weeks. The first weeks were honestly exhausting. Now it feels like we’ve settled in and can understand what people actually speak!

3. Medical notes on paper

Which century do we live in? While in Finland you’re used to that everything’s on computer: the patient’s details, previous medical notes, referrals, other professionals notes, here almost everything seems to be on paper. At the end of our placements we’re probably professionals in reading other peoples handwriting. The revolution of information technology is coming to British hospitals little by little. The staff seems to be a bit against the change. They think it takes even more time away from the patients to look things on the computer. Of course the computer systems have to be good enough to save time and increase the effectiveness of patients treatment.


And now: How are we? Are we all right? Are we OK? These seem to be the most common questions people ask. At first we thought we looked like we’re not all right, but it’s just a British habit to ask that 😀 About 1-2 weeks ago our social life was lacking of people and we were kinda low in mood because of that. We missed our friends in Northampton and in Finland, and wished we had just come to study at uni rather than doing placements. But we breathed and rebooted ourselves and went to see people. Local pub’s movie night gave us lots of laughter with stupid zombie jokes (The Shaun of the Dead) and charity shopping, preparing food and watching V for Vendetta together with a new friend on Halloween night gave us lots of new energy. This week we’re planning to travel back to Northampton to see our lovely friends and the fireworks! November the 5th is a big thing here, fireworks everywhere!

We try to keep you updated soon,

Xx, Mirva


First week in Northampton

We are two occupational therapist students from JAMK doing our autumn semester 2015 in the University of Northampton. We are supposed to be the first three weeks in Northampton studying basics for the placement. Then we move to Leicester to do our placements in hospitals. Sanni-Maria is doing her placement in renal & surgery department and Mirva in trauma and orthopaedics.

There are many reasons for our student exchange. We wanted to go on an adventure, learn more from ourselves and the world, get to know British culture, improve our English skills, learn more from occupational therapy and make new friends (and of course find British men). We’ll update our blog and tell you when something happens, stay tuned!

Today we’ve been here for one week and we’re still settling down and getting to know Northampton. We’ve mainly been just running from one place to another to catch a bus, get prepaids, see our teachers or international coordinator.. We also got an appointment with an occupational health nurse who checked we have all the necessary vaccinations etc. Because the buses haven’t been arriving in time, we’ve had to take taxis to the University (of course we took MayFair taxis – the most expensive). Or it could have been that we’re the ones who don’t arrive in time, go and figure.

We’ve had some sort of cultural crash with the British culture. We find everything much more difficult and expensive compared to Finland. It’s funny how the phone firm Three advertises their prepaids: Everything sucks. Let’s give you a few examples:

IMG_3861 IMG_3864

1. The faucet. The picture tells more than thousand words. Also the shower was quite interesting before our landlord gave us a few tips how to not burn ourselves in the hot water or get freezed in the cold one.

2. Can openers. Again see the picture.

3. Got our prepaids from Three. We can’t call to Finland without doing top-ups and paying extra.

4. The adaptors we bought from Finland weren’t suitable for our laptops. Searched adaptors from various places and finally found them. Thanks Tesco!

5.The doors are difficult to open and close. Can’t get out without a key, can’t lock the doors properly. Still learning..

6. Different kind of food. The small quark selection in ASDA gets empty when three Finnish students arrive in Northampton. It’s called soft cheese here – yep, we eat cheese. “Ideal for cooking and baking.”

Apart from these little troubles we’ve enjoyed our time here and have found the British people very friendly and helpful! Especially our landlord, teachers and classmates have been awesome and they’ve been solving our problems whether it’s about the bus timetables or finding the cheapest hairdresser. Someone’s always helping!


We still have things to learn…


With love,

Mirva and Sanni(Sunny)-Maria