Juha Puustinen appointed Senior Fellow of SAMK: Medicine networks of benefit to students
Adjunct Professor Juha Puustinen is the other one of the freshly appointed Senior Fellows of SAMK. Puustinen feels enthusiastic about multidisciplinarity and multiprofessionalism, about bringing knowledge produced by science into everyday life and searching for comprehensive solutions – especially for the elderly and their families.
Puustinen first became aware of SAMK as a young Bachelor of Medicine when some teaching groups in Pori included nursing students. There´s been some cooperation ever since, and nowadays it is very intensive. For example in March, Puustinen was in charge of a multidisciplinary simulation exercise for students of medicine, nursing, physiotherapy and social services, which is hoped to become an established practice.
Preventive work at the centre of joint projects
Tuition and research cooperation is hence about to begin, and strongly. The most significant of the projects in the near future is PORI75. The goal is that all those in Pori, Ulvila and Merikarvia turning 75 will undergo a medical examination; on a yearly basis this would concern about 2000 people. With medical examinations major health risks could be prevented, i.e. arterial diseases and mood disorders, which also predict memory disorders. The aim is to improve the elderly´s ability to function, maybe even prevent them from falling ill.
– The FINGER research of the University of Eastern Finland revealed that it is worth doing interventions even at old age in order to delay contracting memory disorder and to enable people to cope at home as long as possible.
It is significant for the person him/herself but also for the national economy. The number of over 80-year-olds will double in the 2020s, and preventive work is needed so that expensive institutional care – 50 000 euros per person annually - would be needed as little as possible.
The annual examinations of the 75-year-olds in the Cooperation District of Pori will be piloted this summer with school nurses. The idea is to teach the examinations to be carried out annually by nursing students.
Another project is conducted together with SAMK artificial intelligence researchers to create algorithms that would recognize medication risks. The background to the research is a study financed by KELA and carried out in Lohja a few years ago where a licensed pharmacist and a doctor identified medication risks together. Artificial intelligence will categorize risk levels using this information, with the aim of preventing balance disorders, accidental falls and confusion, which affect functional ability in various ways.
– As a doctor my wish would be to have the information in data systems, which would lead to noticing immediately if there are overlapping, too many or incompatible medicines.
Interest in the wellbeing of the elderly has long-standing roots
There are other projects, too; Puustinen is involved in many things. When talking with him, you get a strong impression that what this man says is not mere rhetoric but he´s genuinely interested in multidisciplinary cooperation, comprehensive development and the wellbeing of the elderly.
Puustinen´s interest in the elderly and their wellbeing stems from good experiences with own grandparents. At the beginning of his career 15 years ago, Puustinen noticed when working as a summer nursing auxiliary in clinical practice that wellbeing contains also taking care of the everyday life. The first summer intern´s position at Satakunta Central Hospital (now Satasairaala) under the mentoring of Chief of Geriatrics Maritta Salonoja got Puustinen interested in memory disorders and multiprofessional evaluation of the elderly. Sirkka-Liisa Kivelä, professor at the time, gave him a topic for the licenciate thesis, which Puustinen later continued to a doctoral thesis. Later on Puustinen specialized in neurology and now in geriatrics, and defended his doctoral thesis on sleep disorders, i.e. the long-term disadvantages and withdrawal from hypnotic medication.
Currently he´s interested in the versatility, multiprofessionalism and extent of geriatrics.
– A neurologist is interested in the brain, spinal cord and muscles, geriatrics is comprehensive – medical, psychological, social, rehabilitation.
All in all, the elderly´s diseases are more difficult to diagnose. On the other hand, on each ward round made by the chief of geriatrics primary diseases such as ALS or Parkinson´s disease are to be seen.
– You can educate young doctors by telling them that a neurologist would think about this like this and a geriatrician like this.
A great opportunity to put research work into practice
At the moment Puustinen´s day job is locum chief of geriatrics in Pori Health and Social Services, i.e. he is responsible for geriatrics in the cooperation area, also in Ulvila and Merikarvia. The position includes development, education, research and also working with patients in outpatient clinic and during chief´s ward rounds.
– The comprehensiveness excites me. There is a possibility to put research work into practice.
However, there are challenges – how to take good care of everyone and how to make the ends meet, i.e. how to keep within the budget have to be taken into account. Puustinen compliments his superiors on the support and encouragement they have given, cooperation with Anna-Liisa Koivisto, Director of Health and Hospital Services Department works fine.
– We can be proud in Pori – we have good facilities and universities, SAMK and DIAK in cooperation. With SAMK cooperation we can promote the success of multidisciplinary cooperation.
The fascination of work brings an extra challenge:
– There is not enough time to do everything I would like to do.
Senior Fellow is a developer of the region
The support given by the higher education community got Puustinen interested in Senior Fellowship.
– In a place like Pori an academic researcher faces the problem of not having the support and infrastructure, the backbone for statistics. In addition, authors for theses are always needed – the students can give their own contribution to research projects and learn.
International level publications that are written in English also get direct state funding, which is beneficial for the whole region.
– Applied research could be the product of our region.