My year with IFIC was a highly enriching experience; I worked closely with Dr Viktoria Stein, IFIC’s Director of Education and Training, on a number of EU projects and was extensively involved in the development and subsequent launch of the Emerging Researchers in Integrated Care (ERIC) network.
The main EU projects I worked on were SUSTAIN (Sustainable Tailored Integrated Care for Older People in Europe) and TransForm (Transnational Forum on Integrated Community Care), as well as The Accessible Quality Healthcare (AQH) project, in Kosovo, in which Viktoria was an external expert. This work helped deepen my understanding and knowledge of how different integrated care models and practices are developed, implemented and evaluated in various settings. I also learned to look at things from various target groups’ perspectives, both simultaneously and separately; and gained a better understanding of the concept and theory of ‘integrated care’. This deeper knowledge has given me new ideas and perspectives to use in my work in my home country Finland, where care is increasingly integrated but the concept of ‘integrated care’ is still relatively unknown.
This year’s IFIC International Conference on Integrated Care (ICIC), organised in Utrecht, The Netherlands, was definitely one of my highlights. It was great to meet the whole IFIC team and networks which are spread around the world, and to learn new and innovative international perspectives on integrated care policy and practice.
Another highlight has been working with Viktoria and Mudi to support the development of IFIC’s new network Emerging Researchers in Integrated Care (ERIC) and its activities. We launched the network at ICIC18 and hosted a career panel for which we had lined up some of the world’s experts in Integrated Care to talk about their careers and take questions from the audience – that event attracted a room full of participants.
My experience with IFIC has been highly enriching and useful for my career path. I am now working with the coop I co-founded – we have won a 4th EU project that aims to improve the quality of care for older people and to prevent elder abuse through enhancing the knowledge and skills of social and health care professionals in Europe – but I will continue to be part of IFIC in the role of a Junior Associate. I was also recently appointed Vice President of the Emerging Researcher in Integrated Care (ERIC) network.
For anyone in similar position to me or interested in taking on a contract as a Junior Researcher I would highly recommend it. I would say be pro-active and ask support from the more senior colleagues in the fields and areas you wish to gain further experience in. If you don’t know what those fields or areas are, it helps to gain a bit of information and experience from everything – that is how you learn what interests you the most and where your specific skills lie. It is never too late to change direction. Everything you have learned and gained skills at will turn out to be useful later one way or another.
Henriikka Laurola continues to be part of IFIC in her role of a Junior Associate and is also Vice President of the Emerging Researchers in Integrated Care (ERIC) network. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org