Yvonne from Cameroon studies to be nurse – with a job already waiting

Yvonne Ewane started her nursing studies in SAMK in August 2017, which means that she has two and a half years of studies behind her. At the moment she is working as a nurse in the acute geriatric ward in Turku and meanwhile completes the advanced clinical practice included in her studies.

23.1.2020 | By: Anne Sankari | Photo: Anne Sankari

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Yvonne is a Finnish citizen and sees herself both Cameroonian and Finnish. The culture where you grow up is always with you.

Yvonne Ewane, orinally from Cameroon, moved to Helsinki, Finland seven years ago to study a master’s degree in geography. She already had a bachelor’s degree certificate from her home country. Eventually, Yvonne felt that geography wasn’t really for her at all and decided to go for her dream of becoming a nurse. Already during her studies in Cameroon, Yvonne had worked as a volunteer in a local clinic and took an interest in the field.

Yvonne lives in Turku with her Finnish husband and their 5-year-old daughter. She explains that in the beginning she studied Finnish for two years.

– If you want to study and work as a nurse in Finland, you have to know Finnish, she states.

The idea for this article about Yvonne came from her teacher who sees her as a model example of how the right attitude and motivation for studies help to progress in the studies and learn the Finnish language, even if there is more to life than studying and the distance between home and university is long.

The mother tongue in Yvonne’s family was English – in Cameroon two out of 10 provinces are English-speaking, the remaining eight French-speaking. Yvonne is the middle one in a family of five children, and the only daughter. Her eldest brother lives in Helsinki, as did Yvonne for a year after immigrating to Finland.

Working in an acute ward

At the moment Yvonne has a new job as a nurse in the geriatric ward of Turku City Hospital where she can also complete the advanced clinical practice included in her studies - and getting nicely along with the Finnish language.

– I manage very well, not excellent, but very well.

Yvonne says that there seldom are patients speaking English in the geriatric ward.

– In this job you are dealing with human lives. If you don’t understand the language, you might give the wrong medicine to the wrong patient, Yvonne says.

Yvonne is enjoying her work and tells that she receives good feedback from the the elderly – ‘a good girl’. The Cameroonian friendliness is a benefit in this job. She hugs, laughs and sings.

– Naturally you have to observe people, be able to read from the body language whether the patient is ‘open or closed’. Every person cannot be approached in the same way, you can’t push your way too close, you have to know the personal boundaries as well.

She says that when she sees a person suffering, she wants to help whenever she can.

– But if you want to help, do it well, learn more skills, don’t just blunder with the patients.

– If I don’t understand something, I ask for help from a workmate. They are happy to help. I am new at this work, I can’t know everything.

Busy days, many roles

Yvonne gives positive feedback on her place of study.

– I had no background in nursing, and when I look at myself now, I am proud of myself and of all I have learnt, and I am pleased with this teaching environment.

Yvonne Ewane has travelled between Turku and Pori almost daily.

– I took good care not to miss any important classes, and did what I was expected to do.

The days must have been very busy, when you consider the roles of a wife and a mother added to all this. When the studies have started at eight, the bus from Turku to Pori has left at 5.30. During the bus trip Yvonne has had time to sleep.

Finland and Cameroon?

When I ask Yvonne about the cultural similarities between Finland and Cameroon, I get a moment of silence, then some pondering and laughing:

– Similiarities? Very little.

Differences are easier to find: According to Yvonne, Finns like to stick to schedules, and in general, when Finns say something, they mean exactly that. The Cameroonians are sociable and like to get together. With the help of different associations, they help those Cameroonians who live in poor conditions.

Yvonne is a Finnish citizen and sees herself both Cameroonian and Finnish. The culture where you grow up is always with you. For the New Year Yvonne travelled to Cameroon to meet her siblings.

– It is good to visit every now and then to see my younger brothers.

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