It is a perfectly maddening story where the licensing board (SAK, State Licensing Office in Norwegian) seems like the most fickle and abusive boyfriend you’ve ever seen. One day you are pretty ok, almost on your way to licensure, the next you are a whole new university degree away from it. One day your education is 63% lacking and after a few Swedish cultural classes it is A-Okay.
The sanest sentence came from the Swedish teacher who works with Norwegians pursuing licensure in Sweden (when rejected by Norway), “If their education is good enough in Australia and the US, then it is good enough in Sweden.” Unfortunately this isn’t so in Norway. And the thing is – I can’t really tell you why. Neither could the president of SAK in the Brennpunkt interview. She has a background in politics and boy did it show; she weaseled her way out of every question with no real answer.
Well, that isn’t entirely true. She was clear that they are trying to protect patients from incompetent nurses. But there wasn’t an example of this occurring. Rather, Brennpunkt cited a recent scandal where the previous president of SAK had completely faked her education and credentials. Cough. Oops, that was embarrassing! It leaves me wondering – who is incompetent here – SAK or foreign-educated nurses?
My well-qualified nursing friend was the American featured on the documentary and when she opened her denial letter and fought her tears on camera, I couldn’t hold mine back. When the Norwegian nurse who had fought for licensure for five years finally got it (after going through the backdoor of Sweden’s’ licensing board) she sobbed for (what seemed like) several minutes on camera. I had no emotional reaction – because I haven’t been there. I was with the nurses feeling they weren’t good enough for Norway…the worst case being those who were Norwegian, turned away by their very own country when their counties are suffering from lack of nurses.
After that hour of Brennpunkt I felt haunted. I have been through what those nurses were brave enough to have filmed, except I haven’t really ever talked about. I was foolish enough to believe that an official Norwegian verdict really had validity. That “not good enough” was the shadow I had to live under.
If I could talk to the Liana who opened her denial letter last September, I would tell her that that letter was crazy-talk. Of course she is a competent, qualified nurse. Let them think what they will - she is who she is, period. Don’t let them tell you who you are. It has taken a long time for this to start sinking in, but through this whole identity-stripping fiasco I’m learning this: No one can tell you the truth about you – only you can.
I’m finding that this is a good principle of life. We get labels slapped on us from day one and they just don’t stop (especially in a society that is fixated on appearances). But that doesn’t mean they are true. What is true is who you are, not what others say about you.
This isn’t about being flippant or arrogant. I’m not suggesting ignoring valuable feedback (especially when it shows up somewhat consistently - that is usually a good sign that character growth should get underway). But when things begin to seep into your soul and erode your very foundation, it is time to take a bucket of cold water and truth and wash it away.
No matter what others say, or the labels they try to make stick – I believe there is a foundational truth about every single one of us. Here it is: You are beloved. Beloved from the moment two chromosomes met and you breathed your first and kept on living (hopefully thriving, but at least surviving). Beloved still. Regardless of what you have done, or do, or don’t do. You are a human being, not a human doing. The truth is you are worthy of love and belonging, just because you are you.
These are the things I’ve been learning privately for a while now. It hasn’t been easy. In a perfect world I imagine getting my Norwegian licensure without such a struggle. But this is the place where I’ve grown; this is the place where I’m gaining a stronger sense of self and getting acquainted with the deepest, truest things about life. And for this I’m grateful. So thanks for the hardship SAK, it looks like I’ll be learning from you for a long time to come!