Nursing Education in Poland and China


Nursing is an evolving discipline. With specific focus on Poland and China, I expected that both nursing practice and education in these countries had many similarities. I chose Poland and China to gain insight into different continents (Europe and Asia). Regardless of the similarities or differences in nursing education in the two countries, the overriding objective of nursing is to provide care to people.

Political History and Development of Nursing Education

Poland. According to Sztembis (2006), Poland established its first nursing school in 1911. Since then, significant development has been witnessed in professional nursing education, although politics has played a notable role. During the twentieth century, Poland was split due to wars, occupation, Soviet Union events, and other transformational issues. Despite the establishment of the first nursing school , at the time, the nation did not exist as a state (Sztembis, 2006). On the contrary, the country was divided into partitions led by Germany, Russia, and Austria. The learning center had operated until 1914 when the First World War broke leading to a decline in education. At the end of the war, Poland secured its independence. The American Red Cross and the Rockefeller Foundation provided aid leading to the establishment of programs to prepare women to care for patients (Sztembis, 2006). Later schools were set up to provide one and two year programs. With the support, the University Nursing School was established in Krakow. In 1996, the nursing section was formed in the Ministry of Health (Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, 2001). The department was tasked with coordinating activities relating to nursing education in the country.

China. In the case of China, nursing education is traceable to the period between 1820 and 1951 when missionary hospitals were established to train the personnel to provide basic healthcare services (Wong & Zhao, 2012). In 1837, a short nurse training initiative was started at Guangdong. Later another facility was established at the West Gate Hospital. In 1951, the Ministry of Health grouped all nursing education programs into two-year programs. Later, in 1953, the program duration was extended to three years.

Comparison. The two countries’ development depicts both similarities and differences. In the case of China, there is no reference to colonialism unlike Poland, which was partitioned by Germany, Russia, and Austria. However, the foreign influence plays a role in the establishment of nursing schools. In Poland, the American Red Cross and the Rockefeller Foundation provided help in preparing women to work as nurses while in China, missionary hospitals participated in providing training. Additionally, the Health Ministries of the two countries assumed leadership responsibilities to guide nursing education.


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Government and Nursing Organizations Influencing Nursing Education

Poland. In Poland, the Ministry of Health and the parliament have been among the most notable players in nursing education. According to the article by Sztembis (2006), the Ministry of Health created a nursing division, which was charged with the role of coordinating nursing education activities in the country. As for the parliament, reference is made to the Nursing Act of 1935, which defined the nursing profession in terms of practice, learning curriculum, and outlined the training duration to be thirty-six months (Sztembis, 2006). The Polish Nurses Association and the Nursing Chambers are nursing entities involved in influencing this profession.

China. In the country, the government has also played a significant role in the field of nursing education. For instance in 1933, the Chinese government started nursing schools. In addition, the Ministry of Health has always influenced this field. For example, in 1951, it unified nursing education programs to take two years before revising the duration to three years (Wong & Zhao, 2012). The government also introduced TCM nursing schools prior to suspending all learning processes in the field between 1966 and 1976. The legislative power of the government has also been instrumental in shaping nursing education in China. For example, in 2008, the enactment of the New Nurse Act affirmed the role of the legislature in nursing education. In China, the Instructional Committee for Nursing Education, which falls into the Ministry of Education (ICNE), is in charge of national nursing accreditation (Ministry of Health, 2011).

Comparison. From the discussion above, the two countries show similarities in many issues. For instance, the Health Ministries and legislative assemblies have been involved in influencing nursing education. The ministries provide guidelines, while the parliaments adopt laws guiding the profession.

Current System of Nursing Education

China. In China, a considerable progress has been made given the significance of TCM established in Nanjing and Beijing in 1958 and 1959 (Wong & Zhao, 2012). However, the first baccalaureate program was set up in 1999. Currently, the number of such centers has increased to twenty-four in the country. In 2006, four universities commenced a master’s program. Apart from special programs focused on the preparation of nurses, many aspects of western nursing have been incorporated into the nursing curriculum.

From above, it is clear that different stages of the preparation of nurses exist in China. Programs provided across healthcare schools are at the university baccalaureate and diploma levels. For graduates of junior high schools, a three-year nursing program is offered (Wong & Zhao, 2012). The university diploma takes three years to obtain, although only senior high school graduates are admitted. Baccalaureate programs, which are offered at the university level, take between four and five years. Hospital-based school education for nurses has been phased out in favor of the diploma and baccalaureate levels (Wong & Zhao, 2012).

Poland. In this country, nursing education has also progressed as Poland has chosen to reform its nursing education. For instance, in 1998, it re-established three-year nursing courses (Wong & Zhao, 2012). The curriculum was modeled in accordance with the European standards. Post-basic nursing education reforms were accompanied with alterations in graduate programs. Nurses can learn up to the master’s level in a two-year program. In the new system in Poland, the master’s program lasts two years, while a study at nursing school takes two years, secondary education takes four years, nursing secondary one takes five, while primary school education lasts eight years.

Comparison. The two countries show similarities in their current nursing education systems. In particular,  the university level has master’s programs developed in both states. The two countries have demonstrated continuous improvements in nursing education, as they embrace changes to cater for the dynamic care needs. Similarly, they have encouraged reforms in their nursing education systems.

Post-Graduate (Master’s) Education

Poland. In the country, the post-graduate program used to take four years. However, Poland adopted a new system that allows for a two-year learning period. Holders of a master’s degree are ready for employment in healthcare settings and training at universities, research centers, and education institutions.

China. As of 2008, China ran fifty-eight master’s programs (Wong & Zhao, 2012). Despite the development, the country is affected by inadequate personnel to supervise postgraduate students. Besides, Wong et al. (2010) observed that the programs are however focused on clinical practice. Additionally, the discipline is now distinct from clinical medicine as it operates under the nursing name. Thus, as an independent discipline, nursing is in its infancy in China.

Comparison. Both China and Poland have transformed their nursing education fundamentally. However, China is ahead of Poland in terms of making nursing a distinct discipline. Nevertheless, the two heavily lean on clinical medicine.

Conclusion: Reflections on Nursing Education

In conclusion, the evolution of nursing education is profound. In particular, state agencies have played critical roles in shaping the discipline in Poland and China. Initially, nursing was not viewed as a profession, but as a minor occupation taught to women to cater for men at war. However, with time, its role became apparent, although the training was shallow or limited to the basics of nursing. Nevertheless, it is surprising that the two countries have made great strides leading to the establishment of diploma, baccalaureate, and master’s programs. The developmental path of the discipline in Poland and China shows that it has tried to reach the level of U.S. nursing education. However, the USA is at the top and is likely to set the standards now and in the future.

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