Specialised Professional English for Neonatal Nurses

Text & Photo: Minna Metsäportti, M.A. Senior Lecturer in English, Language Centre, Tampere University of Applied Sciences 


Taitava Neonataalihoitaja (Skilled Neonatal Nurse, 30 ECTS) is a specialised professional study programme organised by five Finnish university hospitals. It is intended for nurses working in neonatal intensive care units, high dependency units and neonatal wards. The professional English studies (2 ECTS) belonging to the study entity were provided by TAMK Language Centre, this spring for the third time.  

A total of thirty-six neonatal nurses from the university hospitals of Tampere, Helsinki, Oulu, Turku and Kuopio studied in our Tabula learning environment. The aims of the course included practising how to successfully instruct English-speaking parents to participate in the care of their premature baby, as well as improving one’s competence to read and utilise scientific publications.

One of the characteristic methods throughout the course was collaborative learning.

The shared contributions led to productive threads which enabled the participants to get familiar with other hospitals’ care practices and to learn from other nursing colleagues’ experiences.

Part of the professional English studies was implemented with a colleague from the University of Tampere. Working on research articles was integrated into a Finnish course on written communication with the purpose of supporting the participants  in their overall learning process during the ongoing programme, as well as encouraging self-study to stay updated with current neonatalogy practices also after the completion of the course.

The course was received well by neonatal nurses, achieving the set goals successfully. Flexible schedule and specifically tailored course content were appreciated by the participants, many of whom felt strongly motivated to continue improving and maintaining their English.

For an educator the opportunity to design a professional language course to respond to working life requirements is a rewarding experience. Intense collaboration with professionals and authentic course elements offer a welcomed insight into a special field, thus paving the way for the design, development and implementation of similar training programmes in the future.