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An introduction to Caroline Bjarnevi, Sweden’s 9th Queen Silvia Nursing Award winner

Caroline Bjarnevi
Final year nursing student at the Swedish Red Cross University
Winner
2021
, 
Sweden

After having her first child and experiencing the beauty of caring for a newborn, Caroline was drawn to nursing. Her initial passion was to work in pediatric and postpartum care. But surprisingly, once she entered the field, she fell in love with people on the opposite end of life: older patient care, geriatrics, and palliative care. Caroline has always cared for people and emphasized a desire to give her whole heart to her patients.

Caroline plans to take Sweden’s national nursing license exam in June 2022 and is extremely excited about the future. She hopes that there can be a safe in-person graduation ceremony despite the pandemic.


The Winning Idea
Caroline’s interactions with geriatric care did not begin with her nursing rotations. Prior to nursing, she already had a close and loving relationship with Lasse, her grandfather-in-law, who has been hospitalized for a number of years. Prior to the pandemic, she would often visit him for a coffee and they would talk for hours.

But with the pandemic, visits all but stopped. Although public health measures were necessary, both Caroline and her grandfather-in-law suffered for it. And once visits began, Lasse, who is now over 90 years old, began to develop memory issues and showed signs of dementia. She felt heartbroken to have lost so much precious time.

Between caring for her 4 children, studying for her degree, and a one hour commute to Lasse’s home, Caroline’s visits could rarely happen more than once a week. She wanted him to have a way to feel her loving presence even when she was not there.

Caroline’s winning idea is an interactive photo album. Photos can be a powerful tool to connect the elderly to joyful memories from the past. And a photo album with audio such as music and pre-recorded messages such as the voices of loved one’s would elevate these memories even more. This photo album could help a hospital-bound patient, especially one living with dementia, feel the love and presence of their friends and family whenever they need it.

While Caroline has not begun the prototyping or technical development of her idea, she is excited to expand on it after she graduates and passes her examination. She plans to seek help in the actual development of her idea in the future.

What drew Caroline to the field of nursing?

Aside from her own personal experience and natural desire to care for people, Caroline thinks that the nursing field is full of inspirational people. Even throughout her hospital rotations, she has met many people with great problem solving skills.

Caroline is drawn to the field of nursing for its people and patient-care relationship opportunities. She hopes to be a palliative care nurse leader after graduation and adjusting to her role as a nurse.

Nursing in Sweden
Caroline believes nurses can make a huge impact on patients’ lives in Sweden. There has been a recent exodus of midwives from their profession in the country. She states that Swedish midwives are mostly leaving due to short staffing, that results in rushing from patient to patient without having enough time to care for their birthing experience. Similar to international nursing challenges, a shortage of talent and pay have been stressful issues that she hopes healthcare leaders and institutions work to solve.

The Queen Silvia Nursing Award
Caroline learned about the Queen Silvia Nursing Award at her nursing school since it is a program based out of Sweden. Part of the QSNA team showed up in her classroom and told her that even a small idea can make a difference. But to see it take root, she needed the courage to apply.

Inspired, Caroline applied in her first year of school, and every year since. With persistence, she became a winner in 2021. The award meetings, networking, and support all enticed her to apply. She eagerly encourages Swedish nurses and nursing students to apply as well.


Advice for New Nursing Students
Caroline’s advice to nursing students is to rest as much as possible. Nursing is exhausting work and she recommends that they rest whenever they can.

She advises students not to procrastinate assignments and to take everything one week at a time. Personally, she plans out Monday to Friday, ensuring she has time to care for her children, work on nursing school assignments into the night, and still get rest. She encourages students to enjoy weekends and holidays so they do not get overwhelmed.

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