A leap of faith

After having written about Europass for seven years Juha Rudanko will say good bye to journalism and welcome a new career as a doctor.

A student of political philosophy and freelance reporter will soon be a doctor. Juha Rudanko´s career path seems very surprising. There is a thread behind his choices however – it is the desire to benefit the society.

Right after high-school Rudanko set off to York, Great Britannia for studies. He studied history and politics for three years and finally completed a master´s degree in political philosophy.

“I had an idealistic attitude towards political and social philosophy. I thought I could make a difference. “

However, the world of academic research seemed foreign.

”Scientists dispute details even though they agree on most parts. Justice and ideals are debated in political philosophy but will justice be carried out if it is only debated on the theoretical level?”

Activism not the way for Rudanko

After finishing his studies Rudanko was supposed to go to the army where he actually first thought going to but eventually ended up doing civil service in the Maailman Kuvalehti magazine which is published by Kepa, an umbrella organisation for Finnish civil society organisations (CSOs) who work with development cooperation.

“I had worked at Valkeakosken Sanomat newspaper before I left for England. I didn´t know anything of Kepa in beforehand but I thought it would be a good idea to gain professional experience in journalism.”

The experience turned out to be beneficial in a professional sense. Furthermore, the idealist who was tired of the theoretical nature of his field noticed that he wasn´t an activist either.

“In Kepa I realized that activism doesn´t suit me at all.”

Juha Rudanko

Years as a journalist

After the civil service Rudanko continued as a freelance reporter and also wrote for Europass. He also did translations into English among other things. He was quite happy in this work.

"You can get to see interesting things and to meet with interesting people but it still seemed like a transitional period to me. I didn´t want to observe solely what others do. I wanted to be the one who does something concrete myself.”'

The dream of becoming a doctor had already crossed his mind earlier when he moved back to Finland. It inspired him strongly for a moment but then the idea of cramming physics and chemistry for the entrance exam seemed too hard and difficult.

Over the years, however, Rudanko kept pondering over the matter and reached a decision.

“The underlying reason for my decision was the desire to do something good .”

Expanding mind

Rudanko was a humanist who didn´t know any doctors. Nor did he have a clear perception of what doctor´s work was like.

“Doctor´s profession represented for me the most concrete way to do something important.”

“At some point I remembered my old dream again and I found the same enthusiasm as I had experienced earlier in that moment of inspiration. I had changed in many ways and I didn´t think so narrowly anymore about what I was able to.”

Once the decision had been made, Rudanko did not delay. He started to study for the entrance exam intensively.

“Studying for the exam suited me well. I like it when I can concentrate on one thing and one thing only and be lazy in terms of everything else. You can´t go deeply into a theme in the same way in the medical school where instead you have to get some sort of an extensive idea of several things.”

Time and effort

It is typical of Rudanko´s character to make bold jumps into the unknown after a long contemplation. The decision to leave for England to study right after high-school was a similar jump as the decision to apply for a medical school.

“A long contemplation allows me to get into terms also with those things that horrify me at first. And when the decision is made, I stick to it.”

According to Rudanko getting accepted in the medical school doesn´t require any special talent in natural sciences.

“If you have managed high-school, you will manage the entrance exam as well if you have prepared yourself well enough. It just takes time and effort.”
It is wise to make things properly in one go.

“In prepcourses for entrance exams you see people who want to get in and who have already tried many times but who don´t ever make room for the process in their lives. One has to arrange his or hers life around the preparation. If you work full time and have a lot of different duties, you are not able to study enough.”

The right career

Rudanko is now finishing his studies. He considers specializing in psychiatry.

Despite the career change Rudanko wouldn´t give away his background. Political philosophy taught him critical and systematic thinking. Students discussed and debated a lot.

“Critical thinking is the best things that a degree in humanities gives you. There isn´t that much of it in the medical studies; you need to absorb vast quantities of facts and it couldn´t work in any other way actually. I believe that my previous qualification compensates what the medical degree lacks in that respect. I also think that my background gave me a good starting point for working as a reporter.”

Is this the right career then?

“I don´t think that I will change my career anymore. I like the clinical work very much. I feel privileged that people come to me with their troubles and illness. “

Changing career is also hard.

“It is tough to be a rookie and start all over again all the time. Your life doesn’t get smooth and settled.”

Writing is something that Rudanko will not abandon entirely tough.

“I won´t probably write anything as a journalist any more but maybe I will write something on philosophy of medicine or popular science or even fiction.”

It is never too late to re-think your career. Juha Rudanko made a bold career change and doesn't regret it.

Text: Heta Muurinen

Photo: Juha Rudanko


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