Shae: Becoming a nurse in Finland
Updated: Jan 15, 2023
Shae has lived in Finland for only five years and is already a Finnish citizen, soon to be a registered nurse and a full-time worker in one of the city hospitals, caring for the elderly. Her story is an inspiration to many foreigners who wish to migrate to Finland as a professional nurse.
Shae comes from the Philippines, and Filipino nurses are known worldwide for the quality of their education; after all, it is a university-level degree, earning a bachelor's diploma after graduation. In the Philippines, getting a nursing degree is not free, and it takes four years to finish. It costs around 800-3000€ per year, which is 46000-12000PHP per year.
After graduation, nurses in the Philippines will earn around 300 euro a month. There is a considerable excess of Filipino nurses, and most of them are unemployed. It is why most look for international posts after graduation, says Shae.
Why did you choose to move to Finland when you can choose to become a nurse anywhere in the world?
I had two options. It was UK or Finland. The UK only granted a working visa, while Finland granted a resident visa. Finland also has an excellent social security system for families and a peaceful environment to live in. These are the reasons why I chose to move to Finland.
What kind of journey did you go through to be at this point, a registered nurse?
After applying and sending my resume from the Philippines' recruitment agency, I studied the Finnish language independently and went to Finnish courses that the recruitment agency also organized. The Finnish lessons are free. One only has to study hard to be able to apply for the language requirements. I learned the Finnish language by myself for the first few months. In the Philippines, we had to accomplish every examination phase to get to the next level. There were over a thousand applicants, and about 30 of us could travel abroad.
I came to Finland as a care assistant (hoiva-avustaja). I started to study as a practical nurse ( lähihoitaja) while working as a care assistant. I was working in the daytime and studying at night. The education as a practical nurse took about two years. As a care assistant, my monthly salary was about 1700€ gross, and training as a practical nurse, I was paid about 1870€ gross monthly, which is around 100 euro more. You will have a higher income if you work in a city like Helsinki. Additional income when you work at nights, weekends, and holidays.
What were the similarities and differences between education in the Philippines and Finland?
Here in Finland, we needed also to be educated on the social care system because, as the Finnish name suggests, it is sosiaali- ja terveysala, which means social and healthcare. Social care means understanding the Kela system in Finland. We do not have a similar approach in the Philippines.
In the Philippines, we practiced mainly in the healthcare sector, attending to patients and their health issues. I was training and working in the hospital. The nursing education that I have finished in the Philippines is a general nurse, which means that I am proficient in practicing nursing everywhere and can specialize in different wards. Unlike in Finland, I need to again qualify as a registered nurse to practice as a nurse.
How do you become a registered nurse in Finland?
To become a registered nurse in Finland, I attended SOTE SILTA, but it is ceased. SOTE SILTA, was an open education organized by Metropolia together with Valvira. They recognized the achievements I had in my previous studies in the Philippines, which is why it was a good program. Because of the program, I am now a registered nurse. The EU funded the program. I hope someday that they will reopen the program again.
While in SOTE SILTA program, I did not need to do the YKI test anymore because of my previous experience as a caregiver (lähihoitaja). Furthermore, I did not have to quit my job or have a lesser working time percentage because SOTE SILTA is mostly distance learning. I did my on-the-job training in a public hospital Suursuon Sairaala wherein I got lucky to have a paid internship. My employer allowed me to take a holiday for the internship (oppisopimus) on such short notice and has been supportive throughout my studies.
As a registered nurse, you will be paid around 2500€-2700€ a month, and it depends on your years of experience.
I have finally graduated and practice as a Registered Nurse, and I am very thankful for my journey of becoming a registered nurse in Finland.