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An interview with Finland's Mia Kuusisto


Tell us about yourself, Mia!

I am a 52-year-old mother of two adult children. I was born in Sweden and lived there until I was 20. I have also lived in Australia for six months as well. I live in Turku and study nursing. I have been a primary care nurse all my adult life. I have also been a physical education instructor and a positive psychology coach. Psychology and especially positive psychology is my passion. I have always been interested in well-being and mental health, which is one of the reasons why I am studying to be a nurse. The hope is to do psychosocial work as a nurse while combining my previous experience and skills as a well-being professional with a new discipline. I like to study, dance, and travel and I have two jack Russell terriers. My dream is to have an interesting career as a nurse and to travel. I also like to develop myself, so I am always interested in learning.

What originally made you choose to work in healthcare - and now to study to become a nurse?

My mother was a primary nurse in a nursing home in Sweden, and I went there for a summer job and studied to become a primary nurse. My sister who lives in Sweden works as a nurse (distrikssköterska), and last year my niece also graduated as a nurse. There are a lot of nursing professionals in my family. In 2020 I worked full-time in physical education and well-being but my work was interrupted, and I returned to primary nursing. A colleague encouraged me to apply for a nursing degree. I decided to try studying at Tampere University of Applied Sciences through pathway studies. I was more enthusiastic about studying, so I applied and was admitted to Turku University of Applied Sciences through the entrance exams. I like the opportunities I get as a student nurse. A basic nursing degree already gives you the opportunity to work in a variety of jobs. The work is evidence-based, health-promoting and health-maintaining, disease-preventing, healing, and rehabilitative. I am interested in meeting people, and supporting them at different stages of life. There are also opportunities for further training and specialisation, and to become involved in development and guidance. I have a broad career path as a nurse, and could even consider teaching in the future.

Can you explain in more detail how your idea of an "emotional workshop using positive psychology" is put into practice?

An emotion workshop using positive psychology can be implemented as a group activity by nurses who are familiar with emotional skills through positive psychology. During an emotion workshop, participants discuss positive emotions through different emotional themes using question cards. Emotional themes include the seasons and related issues. In addition, questions about different positive emotions and related activities may arise. This workshop is suitable for everyone, especially for people with severe memory issues. The questions will ideally lead to discussions that bring out positive emotions and experiences. The cards would be in Finnish, Swedish, and English and there would be 50 of them. There are plenty of options for discussions, a few questions can lead to a long discussion. It is important to consider all participants in the group and to allow everyone to answer the question in their own way if possible. I could offer my own expertise in positive psychology to the group facilitators, i.e. nursing staff.

Was there a decisive moment that made you take your idea from the ground up?

As a primary carer, I have run emotion-based activities in a nursing home for people with memory challenges, and the experience was good. The decisive experience, however, was the mental health internship in the spring of my nursing studies at the carers' courses for the Southwest Finland Cancer Society. During the courses, the carers are the rehabilitators and the cared-for are the loved ones. I organised a programme for the carers, and I noticed positive effects from the sessions, and the feedback was good. It was easy to discuss positive feelings and everyone had something to say. There was also peer support among the participants. Everyone was seen and heard, and sometimes it felt like there wasn't enough time even though there were two hours. In the summer, I set out to develop the idea further and decided to enter the competition with my idea. I wanted to leave my mark on the primary care career I'm leaving behind and share my experiences and knowledge as I move into nursing.

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