The Queen Silvia Nursing Award is a scholarship that is given annually to nursing students in Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Germany. The scholarship was established in Sweden in 2013 as a gift to Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden. The first scholar was announced on the Queen’s birthday on 23rd of December 2013.

The recipient of Queen Silvia Nursing Award is rewarded with a scholarship of Euros 6000 in addition to a unique, individually tailored internship program. During the internship, the scholar has an opportunity to learn about healthcare and care of the elderly from various perspectives.

2019 marks the 5th year of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award.  Since its founding, several of our scholars have pursued their entrepreneurial interests, furthered their careers in nursing, and developed leadership and professional competence in other healthcare professions. To celebrate the 5th anniversary, we will be publishing a series of posts about our past scholars; how the scholarship has benefitted them and where they are in their careers now.

This first post details an interview with Rebecca Eriksson, the 2017 Swedish recipient of QSNA. Her winning idea was to design an electric toothbrush that would register usage in the past 24 hours and send a reminder signal if it hadn’t been used.

Highlighting her inspiration behind the idea, Rebecca says, “When I did my practice in primary care, I met an elderly patient who was constantly tormented by his toothache. Upon asking whether he had brushed his teeth lately, he couldn’t remember if he had. He was living with incipient dementia. Unfortunately, the healthcare staff didn’t keep records of patients’ oral health so there was no system in place to track oral hygiene.

It was then that I realized that oral care is often neglected in primary care. Thus, I wanted to develop a simple idea that could help both patients and the healthcare staff in following better oral care practices. An electric toothbrush that would send reminders based on when it was last used seemed like a great solution.

In addition to improving the state of oral health in primary care, I want people to pay more attention to its overall state in general healthcare. Poor oral hygiene is the cause of many infections and pain for the elderly. Simple steps such as brushing every day can go a long way in maintaining good oral health.

Speaking about her experience of the QSNA ceremony, Rebecca says that it was one of the best things about her scholarship. It was a proud moment, the memory of which she will carry throughout her life.

Photo: Yanan Li

She says, “The scholarship gave me many new friends and valuable contacts in my career. It made me see and experience things that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It took me to places like Tokyo, Germany, and Poland I gained a wider, more multicultural perspective on healthcare.

My idea has been noticed in Japan but it is still under construction. I am looking for companies that would like to develop and implement the product.

Currently, I am working as a registered nurse at Karolinska Sjukhuset (Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden) in emergency care. I am also helping nursing students with their practice. Furthermore, I am involved with a company that works with an application about health and food since it is a big interest for me. I look forward to seeing what the future brings!”

We wish Rebecca all the best in her career and thank her for the work she is doing in improving elderly and dementia care!