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Local professional headed to Finland with Rotary exchange

Missy Lindow

By Anna Erickson

Missy Lindow is preparing for the trip of a lifetime to Finland for a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange.

She will be representing the Park Rapids Rotary Club as well as Rotary District 5580 on her trip. Lindow’s team includes four others from District 5580, which includes much of northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Canada.

“It is an honor and an amazing opportunity and I hope to share what I learn with our community and district,” Lindow said.

As a physical therapist assistant and lifestyle counselor at St. Joseph’s Area Health Services, Lindow hopes to gain some insight into Finland’s health care system.

“Finland has socialized medicine and has a very high satisfaction rate,” Lindow said. “They are very efficient in their health care delivery and people there have a high life expectancy.”

She is also completing a health care management and business administration major and economics minor at St. Catherine’s University. Her experience will add to her education once she returns.

Lindow was encouraged by Park Rapids Rotarian David Collins to apply for the GSE. She initially told him “no,” being too busy with work, her evening/weekend classes at St. Kate’s and leaving behind four kids and a husband for five weeks.

“If you know David, you know he doesn’t take no for an answer,” she said.

After many conversations with her family, employer, professors and friends she decided to go for it.

“They were looking for young professionals with energy who are leaders in their field,” Lindow said

She was selected to represent District 5580, which includes 62 clubs.

“This is a person who relates well with people and would be a great representative for Rotary,” Collins said of Lindow. “She will be a very good participant and an inspiration for others.”

Lindow began preparing for the trip in November when she got together with her team in Bemidji. They will essentially be a family for five weeks so have been getting to know each other at several trainings.

“We have been learning about Finnish culture and will get to experience a lot of that during the trip,” she said. “Saunas are on my itinerary.”

The team leaves for Finland April 20. They each have an itinerary that includes presentations throughout Finland about a variety of topics that relate to Rotary District 5580. Lindow will talk about National Parks, tourism, Native Americans and health care.

During the trip, Lindow will get to spend time with a patient to see the health care process from that standpoint, as well as from the standpoint of a direct provider. She will also see how health care is run from a government standpoint.

The team will stay with host families about half the time and hotels the other half.

“We’ll be going the entire time,” she said. “I have two days off in five weeks.”

She will be traveling to the following cities: Oulu, Kemi, Tornio, Levi, Sodankyla, Tankavaara, Saariselka, Rovaniemi, Kemijarvi, Kuusamo, Rokua and Muhos. Just before returning to the United States, she will travel to Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia with the team to debrief.

The team will present at the Finnish Rotary District 1400 Conference during the GSE. A team from that district will present at the Rotary District 5580 Conference this year as well.

Lindow will also get to learn about Finnish education.

“Finland has one of the best literacy rates in the world,” she said. “I will get to a primary school and a university to see how they teach.”

This is of particular interest to Lindow because she has four children. She has spoken to one of her children’s classes in Nevis to share her knowledge of Finnish culture.

St. Joseph’s Area Health Services president Ben Koppelman and Park Rapids Rotarian has been supportive of Lindow.

“This is a great opportunity and will be a great experience for Missy,” he said. “We are very supportive of all of our employees anytime they have the opportunity grow personally and professionally. We look forward to seeing what Missy will be able to share with us from her exposure to a different health care system.”

After returning from her trip, Lindow will give presentations throughout the district and share her experiences.

People are invited to follow her team’s experiences by going to or searching GSE Team Finland on Facebook.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561