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Hanna Jokinen, QSNA 2023 winner in the category of healthcare assistant/healthcare assistant students!

Hi Hanna, could you introduce yourself?

I'm a 43-year-old healthcare assistant from Hattula, working in the short-term care for the elderly at the OmaHäme well-being area. Beyond my professional life, I'm actively involved in association activities and deeply interested in societal matters. My educational journey has also led me to complete studies as a memory care specialist and a podiatrist.

With over 20 years of experience as a healthcare assistant, could you share what your current role involves? Have you ventured into other fields, and if so, what motivated your transition into the healthcare sector?

Currently, I provide care for the elderly who come to our short-term unit for a variety of reasons, many of whom are dealing with some form of dementia. Our unit focuses on rehabilitative assessment periods, aiming to determine the most suitable living arrangements for our clients—whether they can return home or need to move to a nursing home. I also take on the responsibility of wound care coordinator within our unit, offering guidance and training in wound management.

Aside from nursing, I've dabbled in freelance journalism, writing columns for several newspapers, and occasionally help out at a friend's manor hotel. However, my career has predominantly been in elderly care. Working in elderly care services for over a year offered me a fresh perspective on the multifaceted nature of healthcare assistance.

Looking ahead, how do you envision your role in healthcare? Are there any particular areas or challenges you're especially enthusiastic about addressing?

I foresee the role of healthcare assistants becoming increasingly vital. It's a profession essential to everyone, from the youngest to the oldest in our society, spanning across various sectors such as early childhood education, substance abuse and mental health, disability services, and more.

I'm particularly driven to advocate for better working conditions and the well-being of healthcare workers. Given the invaluable nature of nursing work, improving work environments and compensation is crucial to attracting new talent to the field for the future.

As the recipient of the Queen Silvia Nursing Award, you're set to be an ambassador for the competition. What are your thoughts on this role? Is there a specific issue or topic you're eager to explore or highlight during your ambassadorship?

My goal as an ambassador is to shed light on the noble and invaluable facets of nursing. It's truly the best profession in the world. But it's also important to voice the profession's challenges, and I aim to empower nurses across Finland to speak up about these issues constructively and boldly, as our duty and right.

I'm excited about the opportunity to collaborate with partners and believe there's much to learn from them, whether it's about addressing memory care issues or discussing investment strategies.

Having dedicated many years to healthcare assistance, how has your experience influenced your perspective on healthcare and your profession?

My years in the field have led me to hold my profession in high regard, a sentiment I encourage among our students. We're the backbone of healthcare, playing a crucial role that society cannot afford to overlook. Strengthening primary healthcare is essential to prevent people from escalating to more intensive specialized care needs. In the future, home care services, in particular, are expected to become even more critical.

Do you feel that innovation is encouraged at your workplace or in healthcare in general?

At my workplace, there's a strong culture of development. My supervisor is very supportive of innovation, and we, as a team of nurses, have taken the initiative to design our own rotating shift schedule. Additionally, we've independently developed the framework and process for rehabilitative assessment periods. While on a broader scale, it may sometimes seem that nurses' voices don't always reach the upper echelons of decision-making, I take it upon myself to advocate for our concerns through various platforms like social media and newspaper articles.

Considering your extensive experience in healthcare, what are your aspirations for the future? Are you planning to stay in the same sector, or are you exploring new opportunities or workplaces?

I envision continuing my career in healthcare, particularly because elderly care holds a special place in my heart. I'm keenly interested in transitioning to digital services, perhaps within a digital team focused on home care. Another dream of mine is to engage in organizational work, possibly advocating for nurses within a professional union.

Could you share more about your innovative idea that won you the award? How did you conceive it, and what impact do you think it could have?

My winning concept is a nurse-driven approach to creating a permanent substitute pool, fundamentally changing how substitutes are assigned. Traditionally, assignments are dictated by the employer, but my idea flips this model, empowering employees to construct their own schedules via a web-based platform. This system would list available shifts, allowing nurses to tailor their work schedules to their personal needs, thereby offering a balance between work and personal life. Importantly, this model would maintain the stability of a permanent employment contract, ensuring entitlements like holiday leave and sick pay are preserved. This approach aims to enhance work-life integration for nurses, offer them greater autonomy, and potentially reduce the appeal of moving to recruitment agency positions.

Who or what has been your greatest source of inspiration or mentorship in your healthcare career?

My family, particularly my mother and aunts, instilled in me a passion for healthcare, as many of them are professionals in the field. Beyond my family, Silja Paavola, the current chairperson of my professional union, SuPer, has been an influential figure, inspiring me with her advocacy for better working conditions, well-being for nurses, and the importance of speaking up about our industry's challenges.

Working in healthcare can be rewarding yet demanding. How do you balance your professional and personal life? Do you have any hobbies or interests that help you unwind and keep your motivation high?

Having gone through burnout, I've learned the importance of balancing professional responsibilities with personal life. I'm a huge fan of live music and travel, with a particular fondness for island hopping in the Greek islands. Fitness plays a crucial role in my life, offering a mental reset from work stresses. I also have a love for all things vintage, often exploring rock & vintage events and flea markets. Boating is another escape for me, providing a perfect way to relax and step away from everyday routines.


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