Mentoring an international talent opens eyes


Yang Ping, a nurse from China, signed up for the Mentoring Programme last autumn in the hopes of learning Finnish, finding work and making new friends. She was assigned specially trained nurse Sinikka Tuli as her personal guide to working in Finland. It did not take long for Sinikka, who has worked more than 30 years in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Neurology at Tampere University Hospital, to agree to serve as her mentor. Sinikka was interested in seeking international experiences and learning about different cultures.      

“During my career, I have acquired a body of professional knowledge and skills that I want to share before retiring. And being innately curious, I was keen to hear about the health care system in China,” says Sinikka. She is currently part of a team of health care professionals who ensure that patients make a smooth transition from the hospital to the home.  “My role as a supervisor has included an element of mentoring throughout my career, but Ping’s background brought an exciting new flavour to this mentoring relationship.”


Yang Ping moved to Tampere from Anhui, China, about three years ago with her husband, who works in the IT sector. Getting settled in Tampere was a life-changing and, admittedly, a difficult experience for Ping, who had worked as a nurse in her home country for six years. She did not speak the language and initially had few contacts outside her home. “The local TE Office instructed me to attend a Finnish-language course. After that I applied to the mentoring programme,” she says.  

Ping was paired up with Sinikka, and the two met regularly to share their thoughts about working as a nurse in Finland, the certifications and licenses that foreign-trained nurses need, the language proficiency requirements and the job prospects for nurses. In addition to discussing Finnish customs and the status of women in Finland, they talked about whatever Ping was curious about.

Ping succeeded in finding employment. A visit to the Recruitment Office of Hatanpää Hospital with Sinikka led to a month-long traineeship, providing Ping with a first-hand glimpse into the nursing profession in Finland. She is now looking for substitute positions as a practical nurse. “I have to learn some more Finnish before I can start working as a registered nurse,” she says.

Even if it takes a while to find work, Ping is looking forward to a busy autumn. She is set to continue her studies in the Master’s Degree Programme in Health Science at the University of Tampere. She started the studies at the Open University. “A degree opens up more opportunities in the job market”, she says.

Sinikka Tuli is happy to welcome more international nurses to Finland.  
“They bring fresh perspectives and insights to our work.”

“We definitely need to encourage all talented nurses to stay in the profession. A large number of health care professionals have left Finland and gone abroad. Now it’s our turn to be on the receiving end,” she says.

Mentoring is a two-way street. Sinikka Tuli was introduced to health care services in China, and Yang Ping took her first steps towards a career in Finland.​
Mentoring is a two-way street. Sinikka Tuli was introduced to health care services in China, and Yang Ping took her first steps towards a career in Finland.​

(Authored and photographed by Päivi Eskelinen from Viestintätoimisto Tammisto-Knuutila. The article appeared in the ELY Centre’s Oiva magazine in September 2013.)