Nurses can prescibe medications, and other ways the occupation differs in Poland from the U.S.

By Hayley Leitzinger

THE POLISH delegation team, as part of its week-long visit to York College, set up for a nursing presentation in Deihl Hall. Beata Haor, the Dean of Nursing with the State University of Applied Sciences (SUAS) in Włocławek, gave a slide-show presentation. 

The majority of the people who attended the presentation were YCP nursing professors and faculty along with three nursing students from Poland.

The Purpose of Haor’s presentation was to share with the nursing faculty some history of  Wloclawek University and how they trained their nursing students. Haor began by sharing some background information on Polish education. In Poland, primary school lasts for eight years and high school is four years. Nursing education is provided in state or private universities, not college institutions. Haor explained that their Baccalaureate program is three years long, and from there students can progress to the Master’s level in two years. Haor continued by explaining that Wloclawek University was opened in 1961, but it was not until 2005 that their nursing education program was revolutionized by more modern technology. 

The nursing students pose on either side of writer Hayley Leitzonger (center) during an on-campus program on March 29. They are, from left, Sarah Martin, Magda Tucholska, Daria Slomczewska and Katarzyna Koszczka.

Haor’s presentation had many pictures of nursing simulation labs (sim. labs), and they were impressive to behold. YCP nursing Student Sarah Martin, who went to Poland in December said she was “very impressed by the sim labs.” Sim labs are a large part of the nursing program in Polish institutions, and Haor explained other components of their education. Haor said their standards are based on “no less than 4,720 (total) educational hours,” and “no less than 180 credit hours.” Some of their basic nursing courses include basic sciences, social sciences, and the science of basic nursing and specialized care. Some areas that students can specialize in include palliative care and pediatrics. 

Despite these course similarities between our college and the Wloclawek University in Poland, there are many significant differences in their course work. For example, a minimum of 60 hours of physical education is required for all nursing students. Polish nursing students must also learn medical terminology in English, and a minimum of 5 percent of their practical classes can be carried out as medical sim. In Polish nursing sim labs, Haor said, “10 minutes of sim exercise is equivalent to 3 hours of lectures and presentations.” 

Nursing final exams in Poland consist of two parts, a practical and theoretical section. The theoretical section is where students present and defend their thesis. For example, Magda Tucholska, a junior nursing student is doing her thesis on hip replacements. 

More differences in education were discussed at the end of Haor’s presentation during a questions-an-answer section. One professor noted that sign language was a class listed in their section of basic classes. Haor said that students can take this as an elective and they have found it to be very helpful when interacting with patients.

A photo of the State University of Applied Sciences (SUAS) in Włocławek, Poland. (Photo courtesy of ksw.wloclawek,pl)

Another professor asked about respiratory therapy in Poland. Haor explained that respiratory therapists don’t exist in Poland. Instead, they have nurses that specialize in this field. They still have occupational and physical therapy, though.

Finally, someone asked a question many people were surprised about: Can their nurses can prescribe medications? “Yes,” explained Haor, “but there is a specific list that they can prescribe from. They do not have the title of nurse practitioner. This is also only at the master’s level. They can also counsel people about diets.” 

Hayley Leitzinger is a freshman at YCP. Her major is currently undeclared

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