The First Cultural Management Seminar in Karelia UAS Social Services and Health Care

Arja-Irene Tiainen & Henri Romppanen

Karelia University of Applied Sciences has offered master level education in Social Services and Health Care since 2006. The first master level program started in 2006 and it was called Development and Management of Health Care and Social Services. The program has continued since that. Karelia UAS has implemented it every year with 25-30 new students, and it deepens students’ managerial competence from different aspects.

In 2011, we started the course International Activities in Social Services and Health Care. It was the only course in master’s level implemented in English in the curriculum. One aspect with this course was that we could offer students a deeper aspect of international management. We changed the name for the students starting in 2015 and it became Competence in Ageing and Management, International Comparison. In the background of the change was the launch of another master’s level education, Competence in Ageing. In the beginning, the course was offered to both groups, but we soon gave up the integrated education, and the name was refreshed.  The new name was Managerial International Competence starting in the 2018 curriculum.

The implementation of the course has changed, but it has always strived to an international viewpoint to leadership and development. We have also encouraged the students to use foreign languages, and over the years we have had a combination of lectures in foreign language combined with written exercises. Times have changed over the years, and various seminars, conferences and congresses have become a common channel both to get new information and to present new information and research in health care and social services.

The name of the course was changed in the spring 2019 since it did not meet the demands of today anymore. The proportion of writing was diminished and that of interaction increased. The idea of the course is that every student should have a short exchange aboard and share the experiences with the other students in a seminar. Another alternative is to take part in an international conference in Finland or, preferably, in another country.

The actual new element in the spring was to arrange a seminar at Karelia University of Applied Sciences. The purpose of the seminar was to act as a model for a seminar and to encourage the students to hold a seminar presentation in a foreign language. There was, nevertheless, a low threshold to hold a presentation, and the presentations were checked in advance by an English teacher.

Experiences from the Seminar

The seminar was held at the Tikkarinne Campus at Karelia University of Applied Sciences. The seminar was opened with a welcoming speech by Anna-Riitta Mikkonen, head of education at Karelia UAS. After that, Arja-Irene Tiainen, a principal lecturer at Karelia UAS, held a presentation about cultural management. Hanish Bhurtun, senior lecturer at Karelia UAS, compared the nursing educations in Finland and Mauritius. Gyöngyi Mátray, CEO of Ecotelligent Ltd., told about how to come up with a business idea and to establish a company while encouraging the students to consider entrepreneurship in the future.

Three of the students’ presentations dealt with study trips abroad. The first one was to Riga, where the students visited the Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare at Riga Stradina University and met with local students and staff, after which they also visited the university hospital. The second one was a visit to the innovative Hogeweyk dementia village in the Netherlands. The third one was to Saint-Petersburg State Forest Technical University and a private care home. Most of the students had attended the eHealth2019 Conference in Kuopio. They presented the state of the future health care from various perspectives: Robotics in Health Care and Medicine presented how robotics and robots will be used especially in the care of the elderly; The Future of Genomic Medicine took up the role of genetics, genetic profiling and DNA testing in health care. Other interesting themes were telemedicine in Japan and the role of artificial intelligence in decision making. Three presentation dealt with Siunsote from various perspectives: one compared the roles of X- and Y-generations in working life, especially at Siunsote, another one took up the development and implementation of management and leadership competence at Siunsote while one covered the role of the Civil Service Law in the employment at Siunsote. The last presentation discussed multiculturalism and the importance of language skills in health care.

As described above, the presentations were manifold, and culture and leadership were handled from various perspectives. Applications of digitalization were described in several presentations, and their message was that a lot of the concrete nursing can be left to robots. Whether this is a solution to the nurse shortage and the challenges it brings to future leadership in social services and health care remains to be seen. Some of the presentations were concerned with leadership and had various themes related to diversity, like X- and Y-generations at work.

Hanish Bhurtun, senior lecturer, held the keynote about differences in nursing educations in Mauritius and Finland.

Student feedback

The feedback from the students was very positive. Many of them felt that they had to jump out of their comfort zone when making the presentation but that it was very useful at the end. They were proud of both themselves and the fellow students for their courage to present in English. The students also recognise that English will be needed more and more in their work in the future and thought that this seminar gave them self-confidence in that respect. The visitor lectures were considered especially useful and important in the seminar. The students felt that the atmosphere was safe and permissive. Some thought that it would be more natural to talk English if there were exchange students involved. Many emphasised that this was a much more useful way to accomplish the course that writing a report or essay.


The outcome of the seminar day was very positive, and a new seminar is planned for next year. The teachers of the seminar were a content teacher and a language teacher on purpose. The role of content teacher was to take care of the content of presentations while the language teacher gave feedback on the presentations well ahead of the presentations. Thus, the slides of the students were of high quality. Furthermore, the presence of the language teacher implied that language is important, and the language teacher also functioned as a good role model for the students.

The feedback from the students was encouraging and positive. There was, for example, a student with weak language skills, but she had still chosen to speak freely in her own words. She emphasised that language skills are important in nursing and that one must have courage to break down one’s own barriers in speaking. The seminar turned out to be more meaningful to the students than we had expected.

Arja-Irene Tiainen, Principal Lecturer, PhD
Henri Romppanen, Senior Lecturer, MA
Karelia University of Applied Sciences

Photos: Henri Romppanen

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