Lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies passed a proposal on Wednesday shortening the length of studies for nurses – from the current seven years, which includes university, to five. If passed by the Senate and signed by the president, the legislation should come into effect by September 1.
Until now students in the Czech Republic hoping to pursue careers in nursing had the following option: four years at a technical high school specialising in medical professions and a three-year bachelor degree at university; that now appears set to change. MPs in the lower house passed an amendment which would put future nurses, as well as those already studying now, on the fast track – four years of high school and one year at a so-called Higher Technical School. Health Minister Miloslav Ludvík outlined who exactly would be affected.
“Those affected will be practical nurses, nurses in ambulance services, children’s nurses. All will be able to gain the professional qualifications necessary to be able to practice their professions but in a shorter period of time.”
In the minister’s view, the amendment to existing health care legislation will stabilise and improve education for non-physicians in the medical sector. He also expressed the hope it would help boost numbers of applicants in the nursing profession. On Wednesday, the proposal received backing not only from government MPs but also members of the opposition; if it now passes in the upper house and is signed into law by the president, the amendment would take effect this September.
Still, not all agree the move is a step in the right direction, including some in the field of medicine. Anna Skalická, vice president of the Czech Association of Nurses, argues that advances in technology and methodology, if anything, have made the nursing profession more complex.
While the association welcomed some steps by the Health Ministry aimed at tackling the shortage of nurses in Czech health care, it came out against a shortening of the so-called 4+3 system to 4+1 early on, expressing scepticism that shorter studies would attract many more young people to the nursing field. Back in January of this year, the association wrote that it firmly expected that the amendment would not get parliamentary backing, but it’s halfway there.
According to sources, the health care sector suffers an estimated shortage of some 3,300 nurses; significant is that half of those are needed in hospitals. The amendment, should it be signed into law, may help and it may not – it will be some time before the full impact can be assessed.
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