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Torleif Vaage finds personal success through a team approach

Torleif Vaage may not be the first Norwegian pioneer in Minot, but he is a pioneer of sorts: Vaage is the first Norwegian nursing exchange student at Minot State University. Through a 16-week exchange program with MSU's sister school, Harstad University College in Harstad, Norway, Vaage is forging his personal path to success through a global perspective. The success of this new nursing exchange program is based on empowering future nurses at both MSU and Harstad with a better understanding of diversity and a multicultural approach to medicine, ultimately improving patient care around the world.

"It was a chance to have a different learning experience," Vaage said, excited about the new program. "If I had not done it, I would have regretted it later."

Vaage is originally from Tromsų, Norway, affectionately referred to as "the capital of the Arctic," 995 miles north of Oslo. He spent the last 20 years working as a stage manager for touring musicians, performers and theatre in Trondheim, where he currently lives. He had no plans to return to school until a part-time job at a psychiatric medical facility inspired him to pursue a career in medicine.

"It was the nurses who had the knowledge about why we do what we do, they knew what every patient's needs were and how to help based on the individual needs," Vaage said. "I've always liked knowing why we do things, and how things work."

Although Vaage is uncertain of which area of nursing he will pursue, he is confident that his degree and experience in the international exchange program will provide him many opportunities.

Vaage enjoyed the past 16 weeks and is surprised by how fast the time flew by.

"It seemed like such a long time when I first started this program, and being the first to participate in anything new can be very overwhelming," Vaage said. "The first week here was the hardest, but I found that if you smile and remain patient, eventually it gets easier."

"It's been difficult to take on anything extracurricular, but despite the hard work and long hours, I've enjoyed the teamwork and camaraderie of the program best. Everyone here made it possible for me to succeed and enjoy this program," he said. "Just like in nursing, to succeed and do your best, it really takes a team."

Vaage will return to Norway in mid-December and will graduate in spring 2014.