Exchange report - incoming students
Home university: University College Dublin
Study programme: Nursing
Exchange programme: Erasmus
Semester: Spring semester 2011/2012

Arrival and registration

My arrival went quiet smoothly. As agreed beforehand I was picked up from the main train station in Stockholm and "my" Global Friend brought me out to my accommodation. It was very helpful to have this help, since there would have been no other way of collect my keys at this time of the day(late Saturday night).


I was placed in KI student accommodation. Having lived in university accommodation in Ireland I expected a somewhat run down place, but the housing was top notch and good value. The room was big with an  en-suite bathroom and the shared kitchen was clean and a great way to socialize with the other students on my floor. Unfortunately it was situated on the opposite part of town, than the hospital that my placements would take place in, but it was a mere two minute walk to the next subway station and it was thus quiet easy to commute to placement, or to get to town or other areas of Stockholm.

Leisure time and social activities

Stockholm has a lot to offer, be it the thriving city itself, or the beautiful landscape around. My personal highlight being the archipelago. It is also fairly cheap to travel, even to Sweden's neighboring countries. I thus took trips to visit friends in Copenhagen and Oslo. My contact person from Global friends was also great to introduce me to Stockholm itself, while the student accommodation was a great way to meet people from all over the globe. 


The pre-departure process went smoothly. We were contacted early on by the KI coordinators and we were easily able to sort out KI accommodation. Especially the later was very useful, since accommodation in Stockholm is hard to come by. I was also contacted by Global Friends and they were tremendously helpful. They picked up my keys in advance and agreed to meet me at unsociable hours to bring me to my accommodation. It turned out that the person I had originally been in contact with would be unable to be there at on my arrival date, but she quickly organized a different person to pick me up.

Courses during the exchange period

SSKKIR01 : Somatic nursing, surgery - Clinical education 2
By now being at home in the Swedish system my last two placements were excellent and I was allowed to work with considerable autonomy. I was placed in two different surgical wards, the first ward being an elective orthopedic and the second a urological ward. Both were very interesting and the staff was, as usual, excellent and very interested to facilitate my learning. I got the opportunity to see various interesting surgical procedures and was able to take my practical skills to a much higher level than previously.
SSKX01 : Somatic nursing, medicine - Clinical education 1
My second placement took me to the national Stroke Unit, which was quiet interesting as well. The somewhat slower pace, compared to A&E, allowed me to get to understand the electronic patient record system (in Ireland medical and nursing records are still being recorded on paper) and work on my practical skills. It was a great opportunity to understand the runnings of a "normal" medical ward in Sweden. For example I was surprised to see the rapid turnover on the ward. In Ireland most of the rehabilitation would happen in acute hospitals, but here the average patient stay was a week. After the patient was medically stable he or she was quickly assessed and then transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. The staff was, again, extremely welcoming and interested to teach. I quickly got my "own" patients.
SSK003 : Emergency care - Clinical education
My first placement was based in Scandinavias busiest A&E. I was a bit nervous to start out in there, considering that a Swedish student nurses scope of Practice is much broader than it is the case in Ireland, but I was easily made welcome and the staff were very interested to teach and so I was quickly taught to perform peripheral cannulations, male catherisations, venous blood samples and I.V.s to name a few. I was often able to follow patients from the shock room to see different tests and procedures. Rotating through the different areas allowed me to see a lot of different patient groups. I was also allowed to go to the shock room, whenever a patient was brought in that might be interesting for me to see. It was thus an outstanding placement, which could have only been made better if it would have been a little longer.


My exchange with KI was a great experience, both personally and professionally. Personally I got to explore the great city that Stockholm is and professionally I feel that I developed far more than I would have in the same amount of time in Ireland. I mastered some technical skills that are beyond the scope of practice of many registered nurses in Ireland. I was also allowed to act with great autonomy and trust, the staff giving me a lot of free reign, but also being there when I was unsure. It also gave me a lot of insight into the differences between the two healthcare systems and thus allows me to make conclusions for my personal practice. Having been offered jobs in SÖS I seriously consider returning to Sweden upon my graduation. My thanks go my wonderful clinical Preceptors and all the other people that made my ERASMUS such a great experience.

Language and Culture

Having lived in Norway before and being thus fairly fluent in Norwegian it was quiet easy to pick up Swedish. During my first placement I mainly spoke English, but changed to Swedish for my three last rotations. The staff I was assigned to often had an excellent command of the English language and were thus able to help me out, if I didn`t understand certain things in Swedish. The majority of patients didn`t speak English to any great extent, so patient communication might be somewhat difficult for students that don`t speak Swedish, but staff were happy to act as translators, when needed. I was offered a beginners course in Swedish by KI, which I rejected, because I thought that it would be to easy for me. I was probably right for the spoken part, but the written part would have been helpful, since, towards the end, I was relatively fluent to speak, but made horrendous amounts of spelling mistakes. The staff were however happy enough to have a look over my documentation and correct my mistakes.

Studies in general

My entire academic program was made up by clinical placements, so I can`t say much about the quality of KI lectures. However the library facilities on campus and in the hospital were excellent.

On placement staff gave me a lot of freedom and trust and thus allowed me to practice a lot more freely than it would have been the case in Ireland. I was treated more so as an equal, than as a subordinate and my input was always considered and discussed. The somewhat over-regulated Irish nursing system requires, at least in theory, that a staff nurse always (!) supervises a student, when he or she performs any practical skill. This leads to Irish staff often being reluctant to let students act on their own. In Sweden the staff usually supervised me for the first few days, until they had a grasp of my skill level and would then let me work on my own, where appropriate, and assigned me my "own" patients. In Ireland students are sometimes also used as cheap labour, but this was never the case in Sweden. Sentences like “I change the patient, you do something more interesting” were quiet frequent. Staff also asked for my personal aims and then invested time to enable me to achieve them. Overall Södersjukhuset had an absolutely outstanding learning environment.