The challenges of being a nurse in Finland

The Challenges of Being a Nurse in Finland


Nursing is a noble profession that demands dedication, compassion, and resilience. Nurses play a crucial role in healthcare systems worldwide, and Finland is no exception. However, being a nurse in Finland comes with its unique set of challenges. In this article, we will explore these challenges and shed light on the life and experiences of nurses in this Scandinavian country.

Nurse in Finland

The Finnish Healthcare System – An Overview

Before delving into the specific challenges faced by nurses, it’s essential to understand the Finnish healthcare system. Finland boasts a robust and well-regulated healthcare system that provides universal coverage to its citizens and residents. The healthcare system is primarily funded through taxes and offers a wide range of services, including primary care, hospital care, and specialized treatments.

Challenges Faced by Nurses in Finland

nurse in finland

1. Demanding Workload

Nurses in Finland often find themselves working long hours with heavy patient loads. The demand for healthcare services, especially in public hospitals, can be overwhelming. This workload can lead to burnout and affect the quality of care provided. It’s not uncommon for nurses to work extended shifts, sometimes up to 12 hours, which can be physically and mentally exhausting.

2. Shift Work and Irregular Hours

The nursing profession requires round-the-clock care, which means nurses often work in shifts, including nights and weekends. This irregular schedule can disrupt personal lives, making it challenging to maintain a work-life balance. While shift work allows for continuous patient care, it can take a toll on nurses’ social lives and family time.

3. Staff Shortages

Despite its strong healthcare system, Finland faces a shortage of healthcare professionals, including nurses. This shortage puts additional pressure on existing nursing staff, forcing them to take on more responsibilities. Overworked nurses can become prone to errors and may struggle to provide the level of care they desire.

4. Language Barrier

For foreign-born nurses who come to work in Finland, the language barrier can be a significant obstacle. While many Finns speak English, the official language in healthcare settings is Finnish or Swedish. Learning a new language while trying to provide quality care can be daunting. Some hospitals offer language courses, but it remains a formidable challenge for newcomers.

5. High Expectations

Finland sets high standards for healthcare, which means nurses are expected to deliver top-notch care consistently. Meeting these expectations can be stressful, especially for newer nurses who are still gaining experience. The pressure to adhere to strict protocols and maintain high levels of professionalism can be overwhelming.

6. Cultural Differences

Finland has a growing multicultural population, and nurses often care for patients from diverse cultural backgrounds. While cultural diversity is enriching, it can present challenges. Nurses must adapt to various cultural norms and expectations when caring for patients from different backgrounds, which requires sensitivity and cultural competence.

7. Keeping Up with Advancements

The healthcare field is constantly evolving, with new technologies and treatment modalities emerging. Nurses in Finland must invest time in continuing education to stay updated with the latest advancements in healthcare. This commitment to lifelong learning is both a challenge and a necessity for nurses to provide the best care possible.

8. Mental Health Struggles

The emotional toll of nursing can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Nurses often witness patients’ suffering and may experience moral distress when faced with ethical dilemmas. It’s crucial for nurses to have access to adequate mental health support and resources to cope with the emotional demands of their profession.

9. Ethical Dilemmas

Nurses often find themselves facing ethical dilemmas, such as respecting patient autonomy while adhering to healthcare regulations. Navigating these situations can be challenging, and nurses must strike a delicate balance between advocating for their patients’ rights and following institutional guidelines.

10. Patient Advocacy

Advocating for patients’ rights and needs is a fundamental role of nurses. However, it can sometimes clash with administrative decisions or resource constraints, leading to frustration. Nurses must find effective ways to advocate for their patients while working within the constraints of the healthcare system.


Being a nurse in Finland is both rewarding and challenging. The demands of the profession, coupled with the high standards of care, can test the mettle of even the most dedicated nurses. Despite these challenges, nurses in Finland continue to provide exceptional care to their patients, contributing to the country’s well-regarded healthcare system.


  1. Are there opportunities for career advancement for nurses in Finland?
    Yes, nurses can pursue further education and specialize in various fields, opening up avenues for career growth.
  2. How does Finland address the issue of nurse shortages?
    Finland is actively working on strategies to attract more nursing professionals, including offering incentives and support for international nurses.
  3. What is the average salary of a nurse in Finland?
    The average salary varies depending on experience and location but generally ranges from €3,000 to €4,500 per month.
  4. Do Finnish nurses have opportunities to work abroad?
    Yes, Finnish nurses with proper qualifications can explore job opportunities in other countries, although language requirements may apply.
  5. What is the most challenging aspect of nursing in Finland according to nurses themselves?
    Many nurses cite the demanding workload and shift work as the most challenging aspects of their profession in Finland.
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