Doctoral Education in Nursing: A Polish Perspective

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Lena Serafin, MSN, BSN, RN1
Anna Doboszynska, MD, PhD, MD2
Ewa Kadalska, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN1
(1)Clinical Nursing Department, Medical University of Warsaw, 01-445 Warsaw, Poland
(2)Clinic of Pulmonology, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Olsztyn, Poland



            Becoming a registered nurse in Poland requires a completing  of a three-year  bachelor’s degree. Afterwards nurses have an opportunity to continue their education at master’s degree level or start a two-year clinical nurse specialist course. Doctoral education can  be attended  by nurses who have successfully completed their master’s degree. The main law which regulates nursing practice in Poland is an act from 15th July 2011. According to this document Polish registered nurses are obligated to continuously develop their skills and competences. This is the reason why so many nurses improve their skills by attending a postgraduate courses (around 7,5% of them have obtained a title of specialist at some clinical field) (Main Chamber of Nurses and Midwifery, 2012).    


            First Polish nurses obtained they doctoral degrees in early 80s. The dissertations focused mainly on  human sciences, natural sciences or medical sciences, nevertheless it were  not  focused strictly on nursing, as it was not recognized as a field of science back then. According to  Polish Nursing Association, since 2006; 51 polish nurses became doctoral of science.. Gaworska-Krzemińska (2009), head of Nursing Management Department of Medical University of Gdańsk, claims that only 0,5-1% nurses, who graduated a master’s degree, continued their education at doctoral level. Today, in the Polish education system there are still no doctoral studies specifically in nursing - it is not possible to obtain a doctor of nursing science degree. Currently majority of nurses start studies at faculty of health sciences and they obtain a doctor of health science title. Each faculty which conducts a doctoral education is obligated to create their own curriculum.

            The course of doctoral studies is regulated by Directive of Minister of Science and Higher Education from 24th October 2014 regarding the doctoral studies and doctoral scholarship. This act defines organizational aspects of courses and duties of directors of the studies. For example, according to the Faculty of Health Sciences (The Medical University of Warsaw) doctoral education program, the curriculum takes four years and contains 1205 study hours. The most part (360 hours) of the degree is focused on teaching skills. Doctoral candidate has to conduct classes with students. Then, 326 hour is a self study – mainly to prepare for the classes. Furthermore, students have to complete the following courses: biostatistics, history of medicine, bioethics, psychosomatic medicine and humanistic basics of medicine. There are two options of studying: paid and free of charge. The first one is chosen definitely more often than the second.  Furthermore if doctoral candidate completes a program of study on time (verified once a year), during four years of education he receives a monthly scholarship. Additionally, students have an opportunity to receive money from external facilities.


            For many years Polish nurses have been putting their efforts into being able to obtain a doctoral degree specifically in nursing science. The opportunity of education at doctoral level has shown new perspectives for Polish nurses They can willingly improve their skills. Scientific work is an important aspect of  developing nursing profession in Poland as it helps to progress evidence-based practice what is essential for  improving the quality of care.