Erasmus+ Global Mobility Staff Visit from Philippines to University of Eastern Finland, Department of Nursing Science

Written by: Asst. Prof. Rolando P. Roncal Jr

RolandoI am Rolando P. Roncal Jr., Assistant Professor III and Chairman of the Nursing Program at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, College of Community Health and Allied Medical Sciences (DMMMSU CCHAMS), Agoo, La Union, Philippines. I am honored and very much privilege to have been awarded a grant through the Erasmus+ Global Mobility Programme, providing me with the opportunity to visit the University of Eastern Finland, Department of Nursing Science. This joint mobility program was developed by Professor Katri Vehviläinen-Julkunen and MSc Anndra Parviainen from Finnish side. I would like to thank also our honorable DMMMSU President Dr. Jaime Manuel Jr., Chancellor Dr. Joanne Rivera, former Dean Ofelia Valdehueza, and Dr. Antonio Ogbinar, who had their administrative visit in UEF Finland in 2019 to initiate the partnership between University of Eastern Finland and DMMMSU.  Within this blog, I will elaborate on my personal and academic experiences during my visit to the beautiful Finland in October 2023.

My trip began with a 22-hour plane journey from Manila, Philippines,  to Kuopio, Finland, on October 21, 2023. I had a very smooth travel and I reached Kuopio Airport at 17:25 on October 22, 2023. Stepping out of the airport, I was warmly welcome by Anndra Parviainen, UEF Univeristy Teacher, and Koupio greeted me with a temperature of -1 degree Celsius. Coming from a warm country, experiencing cold weather, snow, and the need for winter clothing was something I had always dreamed of. This, to me, seems like the opening chapter to a book filled with promising adventures and enriching experiences ahead.

At the beginning of my Erasmus+ programme, I received a cordial and gracious welcome and engaged in a meeting with Professor Tarja Kvist, during which she enthusiastically introduced the distinguished University of Eastern Finland. The presentation, albeit concise, provided comprehensive insights into the Kuopio and Joensuu Campuses of UEF. Professor Tarja’s informative discourse on UEF heightened my anticipation and excitement for the forthcoming activities. The conclusion of our meeting was marked by a delightful luncheon.

Additionally, I had the privilege to deliver a presentation with profound pride and enthusiasm about my home institution, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU). This afforded me the opportunity to familiarize the faculty members of the UEF Department of Nursing Science with the teaching and research domains of DMMMSU. The primary objective of this presentation is to cultivate potential avenues for research collaboration between UEF and DMMMSU in the future.

A noteworthy aspect of this whole journey for me was the significant privilege given to me as a guest lecturer in Professor Katri Vehviläinen–Julkunen’s “Evaluation of Nursing Knowledge” course and the opportunity to meet different beautiful people from different unit of UEF.

In my capacity as guest lecturer, I had the opportunity to present the meaning of nursing education in the Philippine context. I provided a brief overview of the prevailing conditions within the nursing profession and nursing education in the Philippines. Furthermore, I presented the current academic curriculum of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing at DMMMSU-CCHAMS.

This Erasmus+ visit gave me the possibility to experience world-class teaching facilities and meet great experts from multidisciplinary fields. I was able to participate in the course Principles of Nutrition which is taught by Senior University Lecturer, Arja Lyytinen, UEF Public Health Science and Clinical Nutrition Science. Another course that I enjoyed was the course Public Health in Humanitarian Crises, taught by Dr. Sohaib Khan and Prof. Jussi Kauhanen.

The most memorable experience was the hospital visit in Kuopio University Hospital where I had the chance to visit the Intensive Care Unit, Clinical Training Center, Neuro-Cardiac Surgery Unit, and Women’s Acute Center. Also, I had the opportunity to visit Savonia University of Applied Sciences’ state-of-the-art Simulation Center.

Engaging in a range of activities, including attending meetings, observing classes, and conducting on-site visits to various units and facilities, both within and outside the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), provided me with a rich and insightful experience. This exposure allowed me to witness firsthand the commendable practices embedded in education systems, inclusive decision-making procedures, a tranquil work environment, a harmonious balance between work and personal life, state-of-the-art facilities, and well-defined policies.

These experiences collectively instilled in me an optimistic perspective regarding the potential enhancements that could be made within the academic framework of our home institution. By integrating these positive elements into the fabric of our university system, I am hopeful that we can drive substantial progress in our continuous mission to deliver high-quality and world class educational experiences, ultimately benefiting our academic community and advancing further our institution’s overall educational standards.

On a personal note, this journey has surpassed academic and professional pursuits, finding its essence in meaningful connections with very remarkable and beautiful individuals. While learning activities were enriching, the genuine warmth and hospitality of highly professionals that I met defined the depth of this experience. Their humility, warmth and friendliness went beyond professional roles, creating camaraderie, enhancing the journey educationally, and contributing a profound personal significance.

Through these connections, I believe this whole Erasmus+ Staff Mobility journey became a tapestry of shared experiences, fostering belongingness and creating a truly impactful and memorable overall experience. I hope to see and visit again the happiest country and the beautiful people of beautiful Finland.


Greetings from the researcher exchange to Centre for Quality and Patient Safety Research in Melbourne, AU


Deakin Uni Sign

I am delighted and grateful to #Saastamoisen_Säätiö sr – Saastamoinen Foundation for the funding which facilitated my researcher exchange to #Deakin_University in Victoria, #Melbourne, #Australia for five weeks in October-November 2022.


My visiting destination was the Institute of Health Transformation and the Centre for Quality and Patient Safety research (QPS). The visit preparations started before Covid-19 pandemic. I came across with Deakin Professor Julie Considine and Professor Judy Currey while they were lecturing in Finland. We had a chat on a coffee break and I found out that they were colleagues of Professor Elizabeth Manias who I was already previously keen to meet one day;  We have a common study focus of “medication related communication”. Julie and Judy kindly advised me how to apply for an exchange period into Deakin Uni and they conveyed my message to Professor Manias. This distant dream finally came true after two years’ delay due to the pandemic. Thus, it was worth writing down this “unlikely dream” to my original study plan in the first place!

My principal hosts during the visit were experienced patient safety researchers Professor Elizabeth Manias and Professor Tracey Bucknall. The exchange collaboration included co-authorship of one scientific article with the professors and Professor Vehviläinen-Julkunen and Associate Professor Härkänen from UEF.

Elizabeth and Tracey kindly organized an interesting program for the exchange period. I had an amazing opportunity to network with several highly skilled patient safety and communication researchers. QPS has over 80 researchers plus doctoral students, who deliver around 250 scientific articles per year (QPS annual report, 2021). I managed to arrange personal meetings with many researchers, but also enjoyed several collective researchers’ events with a variety of researchers. For example, Associate Professor Debra Kerr has been studying if communication training for nurses should be standardized (Kerr, Martin, Furber, Winterburn, Milnes, Nielsen and Strachan, 2022).  

I was offered to attend LUMA institute’s “Shared decision-making methods” training, which continues now via Zoom. 



I participated in a 4-days researcher conference of SoNM (School of Nursing and Midwifery) where there were over 40 scientific presentations by PhD- and Master’s students, Doctors, and Professors. I had the privilege to present my own doctoral study also at the conference, which was a great learning experience in a friendly atmosphere.


The SoNM conference included training about systematic literature review by Professor Brigid Gillespie from Griffith University and NVivo workshop by Professor Linda Sweet from Deakin University. The discussions about research with several academic colleagues helped me to map post doc research ideas and possibilities for future collaboration between the Departments of Nursing Science in Deakin and UEF. I was able to initiate patient-safety-researcher networks to universities in AU, but also to Danmark, Iran, Ethiopia, and Mexico. In addition, the Deakin networking helped me to find potential collaboration links to Netherlands and Canada.

Professor Julie Concidine, Chair In Nursing Eastern Health and Director of research unit, kindly arranged an interesting visit to Box Hill Hospital for a Danish doctoral exchange student Helen and me. We met members of Julie’s research group and visited a couple of units and discussed with their directors and staff regarding medication management practices, digital solutions, staff retention challenges and solutions during pandemic times. The challenges have been similar type to Finland and Denmark.

However, the differences in solutions seemed to be the higher compensations to nurses taking care of Covid patients, free meals during the working shift plus offers of free continuing professional development courses in higher education. This is meaningful, as AU nurses need to gain a certain number of training credits per certain period of time to keep their nursing license effective.


In Melbourne, according to my understanding, many of the professors are mainly working as directors of the research units within hospitals or hospital districts and having a smaller percentage of contract in UNI than in hospital – contrary to Finland, where we have the opposite proportions of working hours for professors, or professors work full time in UNI. In Melbourne the research units are interprofessional and they are often responding straight to the local clinical evidence needs. Thus, remarkable part of the scientific research is aiming to give answers straight to clinicians.

The research results improve front line clinical work by giving evidence base for decision making for local managers and directors – They are studying for example “How effective it is to use ultrasound cannulation method compared to traditional cannulation?”(Schoch, Bennett, Currey, Smith, Orellana and Hutchinson, 2022) or “How effective is nurses’ training intervention for recognizing and reporting patients’ deterioration in their organization?” (Bucknall, Considine, Harvey, Graham, Rycroft-Malone,Mitchell, Saultry, Watts, Mohebbi, Bohingamu Mudiyanselage, Lotfaliany and Hutchinson, 2022) or “How interprofessional and intraprofessional communication occures  when managing older patients’ medications during care transitions” (Manias, Bucknall, Woodward-Kron, Hughes, Jorm, Ozavci and Joseph, 2021) or “How do the family members perceived ICU care and communication during the pandemic” (Digby, Manias, Haines, Orosz, Ihle and Bucknall, 2022). 

And which were the key take home messages from my exchange? 

Nursing research is highly respected, well-funded, effectively led and collaborated in Melbourne, Australia, and it concentrates strongly on intervention and effectiveness research. One of the main aims is to translate research results into practice. The research areas are discussed openly, results shared, awarded, and celebrated actively and projects developed in wide researcher and clinician collaboration. Diverse level students, Post Docs and professors have common local conferences, where they can network and learn from each other as a researcher community. 

People in Australia are truly kind and helpful. Infrastructure is very modern but green aspects are taken into consideration even around skyscrapers. Air B & B accommodation within a family was a pragmatic and cost-efficient solution but also a great way to get to know local culture, warm-hearted people, lovely garden, wild and pet animals and beautiful houses in family housing areas! 

The Deakin visit was full of amazing new experiences and contacts. I can warmly recommend exchange periods to Melbourne, and to encourage different level researchers and students to build exchange dreams – the dreams might come true! 

Best Regards,

Tiina Syyrilä, Doctoral researcher, University Teacher, MSc, RN
Department of Nursing Science, UEF