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A midwife-public-health nurse’s work in northern Finland, 1950–87


Correspondence: MerjaNikkonen Assistant Professor, University of Oulu, Department of Nursing and Health Administration, Kasarmintie 4, FIN-90401 Oulu, Finland. E-mail: <>


This paper describes the work of Jouki Nykänen, a midwife-public-health nurse in northern Finland during the years 1950–87. The material for the study was collected by a biographical interview. On the basis of content analysis, the work of the interviewee consisted of the following phases: (i) midwife-public-health nurse in the district of Sevettijärvi (1950–58); (ii) municipal midwife in Pyhäntä (1958–60); and (iii) midwife-public-health nurse in the rural district of Karunki (1962–87). In Sevettijärvi, Jouki’s work emphasised independent planning and implementation. In Pyhäntä, her health-care clinics were well organised. In Karunki, another midwife-public-health nurse working with Jouki made conditions flexible, with personal districts for the two nurses. During home visits, Jouki took care of the whole family, from the grandfather to the baby. The Finnish Public Health Act (1972) changed the character of Jouki’s work. The number of home visits decreased and clinics, fragmented into several fields of health care, took the place of home visits, requiring efficiency and results. The results of the study showed the core of a midwife-public-health nurse’s work in Finland in a changing historical and social context, as well as showing the changes in a midwife-public-nurse’s work since the post-war years.