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  • TTU nursing and nutrition students spent a month in Finland and Russia learning about how other governments take care of their citizenry.
  • While there, they went hiking, white-water rafting and met Santa Claus at the Arctic Circle.


A group of Tennessee Tech University nursing and nutrition students spent a month this summer in Finland and Russia, discovering how other forms of government oversee healthcare.

Along the way, they met Santa, went white-water rafting and watched former Olympians at ski practice.

“It just opened our eyes to the way they live,” said senior nursing student Katie Mitchell of Lebanon. “It will make us more well rounded nurses. We’ll be able to better understand other people’s opinions because we’ve seen other ways of living.”

The young women on the trip mostly focused on pediatrics, but they did not work with patients. On a hospital tour in northern Finland, they were surprised to see nurses wearing socks and flip-flops. In the U.S., nurses must wear closed-toed shoes, to avoid injury in case a needle or other sharp object falls.

The TTU students also visited a geriatric simulation lab, where the students got to try on a suit that helped them understand what it was like to feel old. It forced them to stoop, threw off their balance and desensitized their fingers.

“I loved the geriatric lab,” said senior nursing student Jennifer O’Dell of Chattanooga. “Then they put you in a home situation, like in a kitchen, to figure out ways to help elderly patients.”

The seven students on the trip went on nature hikes to learn about foraging and to talk about the health benefits of natural preservation, which was especially interesting for the two nutrition students, according to TTU nursing professor Jenny Maffett.

“It’s nice seeing them grow and beginning to see the connection with their profession and how this is going to help them,” Maffett said.

This is the second year nursing students have visited Finland and Russia, and the links between TTU and the University of Applied Sciences, where they stayed and studied in Finland, are growing stronger. Faculty from Finland will visit Cookeville in October to discuss setting up an exchange program or linking classes at the universities through the Internet.

“It’s a nice cultural exchange,” Maffett said. “We’re hoping to build a relationship where we can have an exchange, either of students or faculty.”

For more information on the trip, go here.