Today was our final day in Hudiksvall. After our enjoyable 3 week stay, with an emotional goodbye we scanned our bus passes and we headed for Hudiksvall station for the last time. We boarded our 11am train to Arlanda, Stockholm where we are staying for our last night in Sweden. We booked ourselves into a renovated airplane Hotel that has a quirky vibe to it on, the grounds of Arlanda airport. We checked in our bags and luggage and had a quick look around at this unusual but impressive hotel.
After we had settle in, we thought it was time to explore Sweden’s beautiful capital city that is Stockholm. There are endless amounts of souvenir shops on every corner, something that we have been trying to seek out since the beginning of our journey! We bought the typical Swedish souvenirs to bring back home for friends and family while taking in this wonderful city. We walked the amazing streets of Stockholm’s “old town” where the scenery was just incredible.
We made time for some food, in a restaurant that was recommended by a Swedish passerby. After a long day of travelling and dragging our luggage, needless to say we were all exhausted and ready for some sleep before our final day of travel tomorrow. Overall I am extremely grateful for getting an opportunity like this and being able to work and stay in this beautiful country for three whole weeks. I have enjoyed every minute.
We were all very sad as it was our last day in Hudiksvall. We were invited to Sundsvall to meet with one of the Swedish students that came to Ireland. We got up bright and early and drove to Sundsvall which is a big city north of Hudiksvall. We drove to Birsta City, one of the biggest shopping centres north of Sweden. We went on a tour of Sundsvall city which was beautiful. Simone, the Swedish student, told us about the history of Sundsvall and all it has to offer. We also went to IKEA and had a Swedish lunch which consisted of meatballs, lingonberry jam, peas and puréed potatoes.
We were kindly invited to Simones house in ‘Gnarp’ just outside Hudiksvall, where we got to see a traditional Swedish home in the country side. We had Fika which consisted of coffee and a pastry called 'Dammsugare'. Simone showed us her Alpaca farm. It was lovely to see a typical farm in Sweden. We had the chance to feed the Alpacas. It was so interesting to the difference between an Irish farm and a Swedish farm.
We had a great day visiting Hudiksvall and will miss it a lot. It is now time to pack all of our suitcases and bags for a day full of travelling to Stockholm tomorrow.
The time has finally come and it’s our final week. Today is Wednesday and it is my final day of work experience in the cardiac ward. I have to admit I will be glad to go home to my family but sad to leave such a wonderful bunch of staff and patients alike. To say the least, it’s been an exciting experience. From taking bloods to physically scrubbing up for surgery, it was an opportunity that I’ll never take for granted. The nurses, doctors and staff showed me immense kindness throughout my time in the hospital and made me feel so welcome and safe in my surroundings, constantly pushing my boundaries to do my very best.
Today was an emotional and challenging day as I have grown fond of the staff on the cardiac ward. They have guided me through my journey here and have been so friendly. They told me they wouldn’t forget their “Galway Girl” and my supervisor gave me a gift of chocolates before I went home to say thank you and goodbye. I will admit when I looked around and said my goodbyes to everyone it was strange. It’s certainly an experience of a lifetime I will never forget there.
From arriving at the hospital and working within it’s environment, I’ve gained huge confidence in my abilities and to continue on my path to becoming a qualified nurse. The skills and knowledge that I have learned here are huge. In more ways than one, Sweden is a lot more advanced than Ireland. They have no paper chart system, they are fully computerised now which allows ease access for doctors to assess the patients and their files at the click of a button. This in turn cuts out a lot of unnecessary paper work and gives the staff more time to give to their patients. In the last week they have upgraded the ECG machine which monitors rhythm levels of the heart. The physician in charge spoke English and showed me how to use the machine and told me about the importance of connecting the wires correctly on the patient to ensure that a proper reading is taken. I found this very interesting and was delighted with the opportunity. Not only is the ECG machine more advanced, it is also more accurate than the old ones and allows the doctor to see a time lapse of what’s going on within the heart. The physician had to test the machine out and he gave me, along with my supervisor the first go of trying it out on him to see if it works. I was so proud to have been chosen to see this.
I can’t thank the hospital enough and their staff for everything they have done for us over the past three weeks. To say the least it’s been one heck of an experience.
After eventful two weeks of our placement, my excitement escalated today as I am fortunate to spend a week in the paediatrics unit. This experience ties in with my career ambitions, and the experience here did not disappoint. To my surprise, the ward turned out to be much larger than I expected. The entire paediatric unit consists of three floors. One floor is a typical paediatric ward where ill children who require care day and night stay. The second floor is only for daycare cases, such as check-ups, blood samples and minor procedures which can be done by the nurse. The final floor is like a massive playground. Its filled with various stations throughout, where families can spend time together while waiting to be seen by the nurse and doctor. The nurse also informed me that each child is assigned a nurse and a doctor, in which they see on each visit. This is to ensure the child feels safer and more comfortable while in hospital.
The paediatric ward is full of new technologies and methods of making the young patient feel at ease as much as possible. Firstly, upon arrival at the ward, the young patients and their parents/guardians take off their shoes to make them feel more at home. This was surprising to see as I have not come across such an approach in an Irish hospital before. Children who require blood samples or cannulas to be put in are given special plasters with a numbing cream. This is then left for 1.5hrs before any needles are used to make the experience as positive as possible for the little patients. Today I was shown by a paediatric nurse, how to spot “good veins”, after which I got the chance to apply the numbing cream onto the patients. Some patients did not have obvious “good veins”, therefore the numbing cream had to be applied to a few locations so that the nurse taking the blood samples would have a few options to choose from. After being taught the process of taking blood samples, I was then given the opportunity to take blood samples from a 2-year-old boy! At first, I felt a bit anxious as his hands were very little, and I was afraid the baby would move his hands while the needle was inside, which would cause him pain. Surprisingly, the baby remained very still with the help of a few teddy bears and didn’t even cry, due to the numbing plasters that were used beforehand. I was astonished at how effective they were, and how smoothly it all went.
One of the major differences I noticed between Irish and Swedish hospitals, was the fact that patients in Sweden get their own blood pressure cuff, rather than using and sterilising one cuff for all patients like it is done in Ireland. The nurse I got to work with today told me how the vital signs differ from infants to children to adults, and what different equipment needs to be used according to the patient's size. I was then allowed to take the blood pressure of a 3-month-old girl. The cuff was so small, it was only 4 cm high. Another difference I noticed was the fact that all patients get a treat from the “prize box” for being brave. Treats vary from small teddy bears and small toys to balloons to even free cinema tickets for the older patients. My supervisor told me that they have treats for all patients, even those nearly 18 years of age.
This Erasmus+ Programme has benefited me greatly. It gave me a unique experience which will be greatly beneficial for my future career and personal development. Throughout this experience, I have learnt to be more independent and self-reliant as it was my responsibility to do our own shopping and travel. I was also required to prepare for work and arrive punctually as well as follow instructions which is essential for future employment in the nursing sector. I’m looking forward to more experiences in my final days here.
Today I got to experience a different ward. Last week I mentioned my interest in neonatal nursing and my supervisor got on the phone and organised a day for me in the Neo Natal unit and Maternity ward. I began my day at 8am. My supervisor showed me to the neonatal ward and I began the day looking after a baby who was 11 days old. We weighed her and measured her head. We then fed her and went to the common area of the ward, where parents could sit with their babies. The nurse went over the day to day routine for the ward and explained each patients needs. Around 10am the doctors came around to discuss further treatments and were nice enough to include some English words so I had some idea of what they were talking about.
The meeting went on for a long time and afterwards I went on my lunch break. When I went back I was brought up to the delivery ward, unfortunately it was not very busy and they had little work for me to do so I suggested I go back to neonatal, so I could get the most out of one day. I went back down and was brought in with the other nurses to have a coffee and I asked them many questions about the ward and facilities they had for children. I was very keen to find out about their ward for babies, born with PKU. This is a rare genetic metabolic disorder which I was also born with. I was keen to find out how it is handled in a different country and also if they know much about it. They knew what it was but I was able to give additional information as I have had it my whole life, which they all found very interesting, they were also interested in the fact that having this disorder was one of the main reasons I want to become a nurse and how a high percentage of people with PKU become nurses.
After coffee, I went with a nurse to sit with a baby while his parent went to get lunch. This baby was born with many health problems and we sat with him for 45 minutes so he would not be alone, I enjoyed this as I feel giving a patient, of any age, comfort and making sure they are not alone is what nursing is all about. I found today difficult at times, to watch a person so tiny fighting so hard is not easy to watch, yet it goes to show how strong they are. I have always thought about working with children and today has shown me that this is the area which I prefer in terms of nursing. I now know for sure and can work towards it come September when I begin university.
I have noticed in Sweden they are a lot more open and willing to give practical experience. They want to push the boundaries and encourage you to try and step outside of your comfort zone. As a whole they are very friendly and more than willing to help with any problem, and despite the language barrier I have never once been made feel like a burden or that I was in the way. They have been very welcoming and seem more than happy to have us there. It had made me realise how sad I will be to leave and how grateful I am to have gotten this chance, and also the people in the hospital who have made these 3 weeks so great for me.
Its beginning to sink in that we are heading into our final week in this beautiful town that we have all grown to love so much, and the thought that our Erasmus + experience is soon coming to an end. I feel that so far we have all improved our skills and knowledge of the nursing profession. Speaking for myself, I know I have grown in confidence hugely and got to witness the incredible work done by the nurses and health care assistants in the hospital. These are particular skills and knowledge that I hope to use in my career as a nurse in the future. I am looking forward to returning to the hospital this week, as Sarah and I are getting the opportunity to witness an operation. This is something I have never seen before and would never get the opportunity to see at home unless qualified.
Last night we enjoyed meeting up with our fellow exchange students from Sweden in the local bar in Hudiksvall called “The Bell”. It was great to catch up with them as well as listening to the excellent live music. We also got chatting to a few Swedish people we had met during the week, we spoke about our experience in Sweden and how much we’ve enjoyed our stay and work placement in the hospital. They recommended places for us to go for our overnight stay in Sweden’s capital city, Stockholm next Friday. This is something that I am really looking forward to. I have noticed the difference in prices over here compared to Ireland where things are slightly more expensive.
Today gave us some time to catch up on some of our assignments we have left to finish before heading back home to Galway. Tonight, we were invited out for some traditional Swedish food in a restaurant in Hudiksvall with the Swedish people we met during the week. It was great to experience an evening out with a typical Swedish meal. We were told last week by Eva that Sunday is the day that most Swedes like to occasionally eat out, as they prefer to cook and eat in their own homes. This is also due to the cost of eating out, as it can be quite expensive.
Tonight, we hope to head to bed early as we have an early start in the morning having to get the 6am bus into Hudiksvall for our work placement in the hospital.
Today is the last Saturday that we’re going to spend in Hudiksvall, Sweden. It is the last weekend of our Erasmus+ experience so we are making the most of everyday and any spare time that we have left.
We decided to ease our way into the day by going to the local leisure centre ‘Iggesunds Badhus’. After a long day of shopping in Gavle yesterday, a beautiful village an hour from Hudiksvall, and also skiing, as most of our muscles were sore, we decided we would relax a little. We thought it was a good idea to go to the local sauna and swimming pool. It was a nice way to start the day and relax as a group.
After we had a swim we then headed to our cabin and got ready to make our way into Hudiksvall town for the day. Hudiksvall is such a quaint town that we have grown to love over these past few weeks, so we made sure we saw all the tourist attractions. We fed the ducks some bread as it is a very popular thing for people to do here in Hudiksvall. As we were feeding the ducks we got talking to some local people which was great, as they asked us about our time here and they recommended us to visit various sites around the town. Being typical tourists, we went to the only souvenir shop in Hudiksvall where we stocked up on gifts and souvenirs for our friends and family back home. The quirky shop was filled with all sorts of souvenirs, from fridge magnets to Dala horses and much more. The people, the culture, the food and the traditions make Hudiksvall the place it is today. We visited the local museum which was very interesting as we found out about the history of Hudiksvall. There were so many artefacts and pictures that we got to observe.
From shopping and eating out, we noticed that Sweden is more expensive than Ireland in some ways. This is mainly due to the high rate of tax Swedish people pay here.
Tonight we are going out with the Swedish students that came to Ireland for three weeks. We cannot wait to experience a typical night out in Sweden and we’re looking forward to catching up with the Swedish students and to get some feedback on their experiences in Galway and what they found different about Ireland.
After yet another action packed week, filled with mixed emotions throughout the hospital, it was time to break for the weekend. We are all experiencing the full extent of what a hospital environment entails in its full glory. However, we are getting to observe the downside of it too, with some very ill patients in their final stages of life. This aspect is one that I found most challenging this week. While there may be a language barrier, you do get to know the patients and get their history of who they were prior to coming to hospital and what they did in life. It’s hard to see them suffering and it’s tough to know it’s an end of an era for them.
This week and last week I got the opportunity to watch surgeries and take the vital signs of patients and maintain their personal hygiene. I got the opportunity to take blood throughout these two weeks and yesterday my supervisor Lina trusted me to take blood from a patient and I did it first time. Frida and Lina both complemented and encouraged me and this boosted my confidence greatly, and it was something I can say I’m proud of.
The hospital here in Sweden is in some ways a lot more advanced than Ireland. I’ve noticed that they don’t have paper charts for patients. That system got changed about 25 years ago, one of the nurses informed me. The computer system is so much easier and the doctors can access their patients files within a click of a button which is much more efficient in my opinion. There isn’t half as much paper work involved for nurses than at home in Ireland. The level of knowledge that the nurses are equipped with and trained for is quiet similar to those qualifications of a junior doctor in Ireland. Here in Sweden they change their uniform everyday. They collect a fresh top and pants everyday from the laundry room and at the end of their shifts they place them on a rotatory belt, where they are then sent off to be washed. From a hygiene point of view, I agree with this system as it prevents the spread of infection and germs that may be present from the day.
After this week we decided we all needed a well earned break and conveniently we all had today off so we decided to go to Gälve for a day of retail therapy. We set off early in the morning, five tired women along with Maura (our GTI Teacher) and went around the shops. The shops are quiet similar to Ireland but a lot more expensive than at home which did limit us when considering to buy items. We also got the opportunity to explore Gälve and experience their culture and see their vast majority of historical landmarks which were stunning. The old buildings are beautiful and gave an old look to the place. All in all it was a good day and it was enjoyed by all. It was nice to experience something different and distract our minds from the business of work. I look forward to our last week ahead.
After an eventful week full of great experiences in the Eye Clinic, it was time for further adventures, this time in the Cardiac Ward. Although I only got the opportunity to spend two days there, it was still a fantastic experience, as I got the chance to do things I never did before.
This was my first experience in a Cardiac Ward. Throughout my shift, I got the opportunity to put in a catheter on a female patient, as well as take out two catheters from male patients. It was the first time I dealt with catheter insertions. On that shift, there were a few discharges, where I got to take out cannula’s and remove any electrodes that were left on from previous tests. As well as checking patient’s vital signs regularly, I also got to carry out ECG tests on patients. The nurse I got to work with showed me where each electrode needs to be placed, and how the test works, after which I was allowed to carry out the ECG on the patient all by myself.
It was a stressful at first as I was worried will attach the electrodes the wrong way around and the test will fail, but as soon as I calmed down, it all ran smoothly as I remembered their pattern. The patient didn’t speak any English, but that was no major problem as the nurses translated each step for the patient, to make sure they aren’t stressed throughout the exam which could have altered the result. Thankfully it all ran smoothly due to good teamwork and communication skills. The completion of this task spiked my confidence levels as I realised that even with a language barrier, it is still possible to complete the task, once you ask for help.
I believe that we benefited from a mutual linguistic exchange where I had an opportunity to learn a few catchphrases in Swedish, and the nursing staff was also delighted to practice English from a native speaker.
This week brought upon great experiences and I’m looking forward to next week, which will be our final week in Sweden. Although its hard to believe how fast time has been going since we got here, we do our best to grasp every opportunity to we get.
It is day eleven on our Swedish exchange and today was a very exciting one for me as I got the chance to witness my first surgery. Since day one, I have hinted at my eagerness to see a surgery while in Sweden. The nurses whom I work with have gone out of their way to make this happen for me. It is great to work in an environment with people who truly want you to experience everything and make such an effort to make your time enjoyable and as educationally rewarding as possible. The whole nursing team on the Medical Unit, floor seven, have been nothing short of amazing since my first day.
I began my day on floor seven, arriving at the lunch room at 6:45am. I met with my supervisor Anne Marie and did a short round of obs before I left to go to the operating theatre. I was extremely nervous and yet again I was met by a friendly face. A nurse guided me to the changing rooms and gave me a locker with my own scrubs and shoes. I then entered the operating room and was met by the anaesthesiologist, who was more than happy to converse with me in English. Another nurse was there and she explained the procedure to me. It was the removal of the patients gallbladder. She went through it step by step, exactly what would be done and how everything works during the preparation for surgery along with the actual surgery itself. The surgeons came in and got their scrubs on and everything was prepared methodically as to avoid any contamination and to keep all the sterilised equipment clean.
The nurse sat with the patient and held her hand as they gave her medicine to make her sleep. The patient seemed ok until she said something to the nurse and grabbed her hand tighter. This moment for me was difficult due to the language barrier. I had to ask the nurse what she said and then I tried to comfort her. From that moment, I could see the importance of non verbal communication. Even though I did not understand her words, I could see on her face she began to get nervous.
I got to watch the procedure on the screen. The surgeons put a small camera inside the patients stomach and from this I could see exactly what they were doing. The procedure was interesting for me as I have never witnessed something like this before, and I got to see what the liver looks like as well as the gallbladder. I also watched as they removed it. The procedure took about 45 minutes to an hour, yet I felt it went by faster as I was completely caught up in observing that I lost track of time. After the gallbladder was removed I stood beside the surgeon as they inspected it and removed the gallstone, not without letting me get a good look at it!
After the patient received her stitches, they slowly woke her up. I was not aware that the patient is woken up in the operating room afterwards and it was difficult watching the patient panic slightly as she was so groggy and confused by the medication. She soon calmed down thanks to the kind words from the nurses and doctors. After the whole operation was finished and the patient was placed in the post surgery ward, I returned to the medical unit full of excitement at what I had just experienced.
Over the last few days I have learned a few things. I have witnessed a surgery, and have learned how to document what a patient eats and drinks. I have also had to communicate both verbally and non verbally with many patients. Many seem to remember me and make an effort to speak English while I am around. I have learned the value of non verbal communication. I can not always explain things I am about to do such as blood pressure or temperature readings, so I show the patients the instruments and most of them understand and a smile goes along way. It is also vital to comfort the patient in their times of distress or upset, just by simply holding their hand and rubbing their back, letting them know you are there and will take care of them.
As I progress into my final week, I hope to further my skills and gain new ones. I have been promised the opportunity to take bloods and perhaps see another surgery, as well as experience the day to day activities on the maternity ward. This Erasmus programme so far has done wonders for the development of my practical skills and interpersonal skills as well as boosting my confidence daily.
Nursing Studies Students 2017/18
Map of Sweden