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Floro Cubelo, QSNA 2023 winner in the nurses/nursing students category



Hello Floro, could you tell us about yourself?


I hail from the Philippines, where I grew up in what was once a slum area, now transformed into a better community. My early years were spent witnessing extreme poverty, a reality that my family still faces back in the Philippines.


On a personal level, I consider myself quite introverted, though you wouldn't guess it when you see me at conferences, seminars, and public events. In these settings, I come alive, passionately speaking on empowering society's marginalized and vulnerable groups. My focus often lies on advocating for the rights of immigrant nurses and enhancing care services for the elderly, groups frequently overlooked in decision-making processes.


Traveling and immersing myself in different cultures are among my passions. These experiences enrich my understanding of diverse human behaviors and the approaches needed for effective interaction. My relocation to Finland marked the beginning of a new chapter; I've grown to admire its educational and healthcare systems profoundly, coming to view this nation as my second home.


Could you share what sparked your interest in becoming a nurse and describe your experience as a doctoral student in the Department of Nursing Science at the University of Eastern Finland?


My journey to becoming a nurse was deeply influenced by my background. Growing up in a slum in the Philippines, I was surrounded by people suffering from illnesses who needed medical care but had no access to healthcare services. This exposure ignited my passion for nursing, particularly my fascination with clinical nursing practices and the physiological changes in the human body.


The decision to pursue a doctoral degree came partly on the encouragement of my academic peers but was primarily driven by my enthusiasm for developing an evidence-based model in the Nordic countries. This model aims to streamline the process for Filipino nurses, trained internationally, to qualify and practice as nurses in these regions. It addresses their challenges and aims to enhance their retention in the healthcare field. Given that this group represents the largest contingent of immigrant healthcare workers in the Nordic countries, often employed in elderly care without due recognition, I am motivated to present this evidence to policymakers. My doctoral studies have thus been a continuation of my commitment to improve conditions for internationally trained nurses and contribute to the broader healthcare community.


Could you give us an insight into what a typical work week looks like for you currently?


My primary role involves teaching at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, specifically working with international nursing students. I'm also responsible for addressing inquiries from those interested in pursuing a nursing degree in English. As the coordinator for the English-language nursing program, I ensure everything runs smoothly according to schedule and work closely with other Finnish teachers to tackle any challenges that arise within the courses.


To keep my clinical skills sharp, I've taken on shift work at a hospital. Interestingly, four years ago, I was fully immersed in teaching, dedicating myself to a full-time role. However, at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when there was a critical shortage of nurses, I expanded my workload to include an additional 50-100% of hospital work for a two-month period. It's fair to say, I am quite the workaholic!


Do you have any visions or thoughts about the future of the nursing profession in Finland?


I foresee the nursing profession in Finland evolving to be more inclusive, diverse, and equitable across all nationalities. There should be a structured and transparent pathway for internationally educated nurses who wish to make Finland their home, ensuring they are treated fairly and respectfully, and providing them with opportunities to rise to leadership roles within both academic and clinical settings.


Additionally, I hope to see an increase in the number of nurses serving in expert clinical roles, where they have the autonomy to carry out tasks and receive appropriate compensation for their expertise. It's also my aspiration that more employers recognize and reward nurses who have advanced their education in nursing, including those with master's and doctoral degrees, even if they opt to continue working in the clinical arena. This would not only acknowledge their academic achievements but also enhance the quality of care provided in the healthcare system.


Who or what has been the greatest source of inspiration or mentorship for you in your healthcare journey?


The foundation of my inspiration lies with my mother and my family back in the Philippines. The adversity of my childhood, shaped by poverty and the glaring social injustices and inequalities prevalent in low- and middle-income countries, fueled my desire to make a difference.

In the academic realm, the Department of Public Health and Nursing Science at the University of Eastern Finland has been a tremendous source of inspiration. Professors Hannele Turunen and Katri Vehviläinen-Julkunen, both legends in the field of nursing science, have profoundly influenced me. Observing their dedication and approach to mentoring emerging researchers and academics has been incredibly enlightening and encouraging. The joy of collaborating with them is immeasurable.


Moreover, the passion of my Filipino colleagues in our non-profit organization deeply motivates me. Their commitment to helping others, both on a personal and professional level, exemplifies the impact of working alongside individuals driven by a common purpose. This environment fosters an ease of collaboration and a shared commitment to improvement.


Equally inspiring are my diligent colleagues at Oulu University of Applied Sciences and my supervisors, who have continuously supported my innovative ideas for advancing the English-language nursing degree program in Northern Finland. Their encouragement underscores the importance of innovation and development in the field of healthcare education.


What advice would you give someone contemplating a career in nursing?


Nursing stands out as a profoundly beautiful profession. It immerses you in diverse human experiences, connecting you with individuals across various stages of life, each with their unique healthcare needs. This profession offers a unique opportunity to absorb and learn from the myriad life stories you encounter, enriching your own life in the process. Nursing equips you with invaluable life lessons, enabling you to grow as a person and profoundly impact the lives of the vulnerable. It empowers you to assume multiple roles – that of a teacher, a leader, an advocate for patients, and a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.


Could you share more about your award-winning idea? How did it come to you, and what impact do you envision it having?


The genesis of my winning idea, the Memory Passport, came to me unexpectedly after an afternoon nap, influenced by my experiences in a nursing home, the courses I teach, and my interactions with colleagues.


I perceived a gap in the basic care for the elderly – a lack of holistic, comprehensive care. This observation led me to question the absence of a structured framework for elderly care, highlighting the need for something more to guide caregivers in delivering comprehensive care.

The Memory Passport is designed as an interactive tool, not merely a document or checklist. It aims to provide a comprehensive guide for caregivers while encouraging elderly individuals to actively participate in their own care. My intention was to create a tool that not only addresses the current gaps in care but also fosters a culture of involvement and collaboration between caregivers and the elderly.


This initiative places the elderly client at the forefront, emphasizing the need for personalized, culturally sensitive care that involves both family members and multidisciplinary professionals. I advocate for integrating the Memory Passport into nursing homes' patient information systems, ensuring every resident receives the fullest care daily, catering to their physical, psychological, and social health needs.


This approach also allows for the collection of valuable data to enhance the quality of elderly care.


As an ambassador, what are your thoughts on the role? Is there a particular area you wish to focus on or learn more about this year?


In my role as an ambassador, I'm keen on engaging in international conferences, seminars, and policy discussions to introduce my innovative concept aimed at enhancing elderly care services. I'm interested in delving into the biomedical fundamentals of Alzheimer's disease and current research trends.


I aspire to publish a scientific article reflecting my experiences as a recipient of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award, aiming to disseminate the achievements and significance of this prestigious accolade further.


Balancing the demands of a healthcare career and personal life can be challenging. How do you manage this balance, and are there specific hobbies or activities that help you unwind and maintain your motivation?


Exploring different cultures through travel has been a significant outlet for me, offering lessons learned from the experiences of others. My travels often lead me to developing countries, grounding me in humility and personal growth.


In an unconventional attempt to stay humble and mindful of others' suffering, I once chose to sleep at a train station over a hotel, sharing space with those less fortunate.


Listening to old music and watching humorous videos online are my go-to activities for relaxation and momentarily stepping away from the pressures of work. Summertime is especially cherished for its opportunities to reconnect with nature, serving as a vital rejuvenation source.




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