• Tell us a little about yourself, Janina.

I am originally from Parkano, where my parent still live at the moment. They separated when I was younger, and I now have a stepmom who has been important and supportive of my dreams throughout the years. I have a 16 year-old sister and an 18 year-old brother. I’m 23 and turning 24 this year.

I started my nursing studies in Vaasa originally, but moved to Helsinki in 2018 to continue my studies in the capital city. My boyfriend is based in Helsinki and we wanted to be closer with each other, so I made the move to Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. Hopefully, if the coronavirus doesn’t mess things up too much, I’ll be able to graduate in December this year.

My mother is an assistant nurse, and it is always inspiring to hear about her work. I had a lot of thoughts about how I could possibly help people like she has been able to do so for so many years. For a long time, I had thoughts about becoming a nurse, or doctor, or psychiatrist, or something else along those lines. I really wanted to work with other people, and help them.

But nursing was definitely the program that won me over.

  • You are the 2019 winner of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award Finland. Could you tell us how you came up with your winning concept?

My winning idea was to utilize an existing audio memory book and adapt it to the needs of older people and people with memory challenges

I came about this idea after working with people with disabilities. There was one particular patient who used this as an electronic diary that helped him communicate with others. I was able to record information about his day into the machine and review what he did, what he ate, and how his day of rehabilitation or practice went. It was then shared with his family so that they could follow along in the rehab journey.

I thought that if this instrument could be adapted to the needs of the elderly and people living with dementia, then it could help them a lot. It could be used by caregivers and loved ones to rekindle memories of the past. I thought that this device might be recalibrated to hold recordings of songs, poems, stories and messages from family members and friends. There might also be other important reminders such as the date, the time, what season we are currently experiencing, or where they are living for example.

I was inspired to submit this idea because of my own personal experience. My grandmother loves music. Her favorite song is “My Heart will Go On” by Celine Dion, and she cries every time she hears it. If we can use the power of audio to help sooth older people and people living with dementia, then this could really help with any anxiety they might experience.

I have had several ideas about elderly and dementia care in the past, and had even thought about applying for the Queen Silvia Nursing Award Finland scholarship a few years prior. I did not think my ideas were good enough to get through. But this year, I really thought to myself, “Why Not?” I could at least try and see what happens.

I was so pleased and surprised to find out that I was the winner.

  • You have met a number of Queen Silvia Nursing Award partners in Finland and Sweden. Tell us about those experiences.

Because of the coronavirus, I haven’t had a traditional internship, but I’ve still had the opportunity to meet some incredibly interesting people. They have all been really inspiring.

I recently met with Dr. Hoffman of Silviahemmet. You can really tell, even by the video call, that working with people with dementia is truly her passion. I get really inspired by people who still want to learn and still want to give. I want to have this passion for my work in the future. I feel very lucky that I love my work already but I want to love it even more in the future. I want to develop that passion throughout my nursing career. I want to do things and change things for the better, and I feel that I am able to make this kind of impact within elderly care particularly after this experience.

  • What have you done this summer?

I worked at Peijas Hospital within the Orthopedic Ward.

I worked with patients who had operations with artificial hip and knee joints. Not all of these patients are older, and some are considerably younger as they might have conditions which have made them particularly susceptible to injuries in these areas. Patients might be between the ages of  60-80, but sometimes you get younger patients at 40 or 50 years of age.

  • What has your overall experience as a Queen Silvia Nursing Award Finland scholar been like?

I feel like I am the coronavirus scholar! At first, in the beginning of 2020, the virus really didn’t impact my life that much. I was lucky that the Finnish Queen Silvia Nursing Award ceremony was held quite early on in the year and we were able to hold it at the beinningin of March 2020 at the Swedish Embassy in  Helsinki. Thereafter, everything happened so quickly. The entire country went into lockdown and it was stressful not quite knowing where all of this was going. All of my interships were cancelled. I tried my best to find a new place to work and practice but it wasn’t easy. I consider myself lucky that I was able to work this summer. I am even grateful that I was able to defend my thesis, although it was done digitally.

I am saddened that due to COVID-19 the Grand Ceremony at the Royal Palace in Stockholm was cancelled, and now we are waiting again for new information. At this time it looks as if it might be held next year. It will be great to finally get a chance to meet the other Queen Silvia Nursing Award scholars as well as Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden!

  • You are close to graduating, Janina. What are your future plans in nursing?

I’m interested in everything so I’m trying to expose myself to as many new experiences as possible. I love working with the elderly. I am interested in emergency medicine, and can also think about coming to the aid of children. At this point in my life, I can’t really decide.

I’m also thinking about continuing my studies if possible!

Regardless, I would like to eventually join an organization where I can be part of the decision-making process while developing my skills and patient systems. I want to work at as a nurse who makes an impact.

  • What is your advice to the student nurses and nurses who want to apply for the Queen Silvia Nursing Award Finland scholarship?

Just go for it! Even if you think the idea seems simple, obvious or stupid – it might very well be the best idea out there. Sometimes the simplest ideas are truly the best, since there is an ease in implementation and results. But of course, if you have something that is more challenging to share, then don’t hesitate to apply either. Just go for it!