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Meet Our New School Nurse

You may not relish a phone call from Laura Hentunen, our new School Nurse, but it is reassuring for all parents to know she’s there to help students with ongoing medical needs, as well as in the case of both minor problems and medical emergencies. Laura arrived at BISS Pudong this year to take up the post of School Nurse, working alongside Ayisha Zhang in the Nurses’ Clinic. We asked Laura about growing up in the Arctic Circle and working as a nurse…

Q: You’re from Finland. Can you describe where you grew up?

I am from the far northern part of Finland, perhaps better known as Lapland. I was one of those kids who could say, “Santa lives in the South.” Growing up in a small village (2,000 inhabitants) where everyone knew everyone and where your school teachers were same ones who taught your parents, wasn’t that much fun.

What made things more special is that my home is above the arctic polar circle where you can enjoy the polar day (no daylight for a few months during winter), aurora borealis and midnight sun (sunshine 24/7 during summer). People often ask me, “What is it like, isn’t that depressing?” Well, for me, it was absolutely normal until I was 16 years old and travelling for the first time to the south, where things were very different. At that time, I truly realized that my place was not so normal…

Q: How long have you lived in Shanghai and what brought you here?

I have been living in China for four years now; one in Beijing and three in Shanghai. I came first time to China when I was 18 years old with my Chinese boyfriend. It was our plan to work and start an international career here after university. By the time of graduation, boyfriend had changed, but the plan remained and here I am.

Q: What prompted you or drew you towards a nursing career? What is the nursing profession like in Finland?

Just like in other countries, nursing is one of the most respected occupations. One difference that I have noticed between China and Finland is that nursing is much more considered as an independent specialist profession in Scandinavia while it is much more focused on assisting doctors in China. I guess one reason explaining this difference is the abundance of doctors in China who have time to do small tasks or treatments which are usually done by nurses in Finland where the number of doctors is significantly lower. Another aspect that I don’t see in Chinese healthcare is health promotion and prevention which is done by nurses in Scandinavia.

Q: What’s the best thing about working in a school?

I would say the students. Children’s happiness for small things is definitely contagious.

Q: What do you hope to achieve at The British International School Shanghai, Pudong?

Many parents joke that they hope to not get phone calls from me! They mean it in a good way, of course, but this tells me that the school nurse is seen and connected with something terrible that has just happened. I would like to turn this around so that I can also be seen by parents and children as someone to help with prevention and early detection.

Q: Do you miss anything about Finland?
Yes, sometimes I miss the nature, traditional food and Sauna.

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