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Nursing Education Comparison in Poland and Ireland


Poland and Ireland have a singular historical background: over the XIX century, Poland experienced wars and Soviet domination; Catholicism shaped Ireland, and a deep anti-British movement led to the foundation of the nation. The proximity of Ireland to Western culture would have suggested a more modern system there than in Poland, dominated by the Soviet centralist model until the end of the 1980s. This paper shows that both the countries developed an advanced nursing education system.

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Political History and Development of Nursing Education


Nursing education in Poland began in 1911. After the Great War, training courses started, and the University Nursing School opened (Ślusarska, Zarzycka, Dobrowolska, Marcinowicz, & Nowicki, 2018). After World War II, spread epidemics influenced education, and the situation remained chaotic until the 1960s. The end of Soviet influence caused the redefinition of nursing education. Currently, the Bologna Declaration is setting the standard for the profession (Majda, Ziarko, & Zalewska-Puchała, 2015). Within this scenario, nursing education is linked to colleges and universities.


By the middle of the XIX century, Ireland had an excellent health service; however political and religious factors affected the development of the nursing educational system (Lucey & Crossman, 2015). The idea of an education related to colleges and universities spread during the 1970s and the model was implemented in the 1990s. After the Bologna Declaration, the nursing education conformed to the European standards.


Both Poland and Ireland experienced dramatic events which contrasted the development of a modern nursing education framework. The end of the Soviet influence marked a turning point for the development of an advanced system in Poland. In Ireland, cultural and social factors slowed improvement in nursing education. The Bologna Declaration influenced the health policies of both countries, promoting changes in nursing education.

Government and Nursing Organizations Influencing Nursing Education


The Department of Nursing of the Ministry of Health, the Minister of Science and Higher Education, the Supreme Chamber of Nurses and Midwives, and the Polish Nurses Association are the leading institutions influencing nursing education. Programs develop from the 2013 European guidelines; the Minister of Science and Higher Education regulates the course of doctoral nursing studies (Serafin, Doboszynska, & Kadalska, 2015). Nurses associations control educational programs.


The Office of the Chief Nursing Officer of the Ministry of Health and the Nursing, and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) shape nursing education (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, 2018). The Office of the Chief Officer set the operational framework (Office of the Chief Nurse, 2017). The Office of the Chief Nurse (2017) focuses on a patient-centered system, as developed in the US and Australia. NMBI promotes professional education and monitors nursing programs.


Both the Polish and the Irish nursing education systems stem from the Ministry of Health and follow the guidelines drawn by the European Parliament. Nursing associations are independent institutions and are paramount in informing, implementing, and approving educational programs. Some recent publications by the Irish Office of the Chief Nurse suggest an opening towards patient-centered nursing models developed overseas.

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Current System of Nursing Education


Becoming a registered nurse requires a three-year bachelor degree (Zgliczyński, Cianciara, Rostkowska, & Pinkas, 2016). After the degree, nurses can attend specialist courses or continue their education at a higher level (Serafin et al., 2016). Specialisms include surgery nursing, pediatric and operational nursing. Bridging nurses programs are also available (Kilańska & Cholewka, 2016). The Ministry of Health promoted five different paths of bridging education.


Since 2002, three years after the Bologna Declaration, the nursing education system in Ireland has developed toward full integration with colleges and universities. The nursing education system provides undergraduate programs in five different areas: general nursing, children’s and general nursing, intellectual disability nursing, psychiatric nursing, and midwifery (NMBI, 2018). Some bridging programs are also available.


The two systems are similar, but a deeper look reveals some contradictions in the Irish model (Corbally & Lees-Deutsch, 2018). While the Polish system follows the European guidelines thoroughly, the Irish model seems to conform to local patterns that inhibit full integration among different areas of nursing. Irish bridging programs, hence, should be implemented to offer a wider array of exchanges among nurses.

Post-Graduate (Masters/Doctoral) Education


Since Poland has adhered to the European law implementation in nursing education, post-graduate training has become crucial. The post-graduate educational system provides a 2-years master degree in nursing. The master is available in many medical institutions, including the Polonia University in Czestochowa. A Directive of Minister of Science and Higher Education regulates doctoral studies. However, faculties offering doctoral education create specific curricula.


Fourteen Higher Level Institutions (HEIs) offer post-graduate educational programs, including higher certificates and diplomas, masters in all nursing sectors. Training in specialisms such as cardiovascular care, orthopedic and renal, as well as doctorate research programs are also available. The duration of the studies ranges from 1 to 4 years: a Doctorate in Philosophy of Nursing at the Dublin Trinity College lasts four years.


Both Polish and Irish nursing educational systems provide a full range of master, doctorate and specialism programs. Post-graduate courses are held in the most prestigious universities and medical institutions. Masters have a different duration in Ireland and Poland, while doctorate education programs span over four years in both the European nations. Notably, post-graduate education offers nurses the opportunity to update their knowledge continuously.

Reflections on Nursing Education

Nursing education in Poland and Ireland stem from the guidelines set by the European Parliament and present good specialization. The Ministry of Health and nurses associations define the educational programs. However, a deeper look shows a lack of coherent bridging programs in the Irish system. On the contrary, Poland seems more advanced toward a comprehensive framework which stresses diversity and permeability, similarly to the American model.

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Corbally, M. A., & Lees-Deutsch L. (2018). Restriction by advancement – The irony of advanced nursing practice in Ireland. Journal of Advanced Nursing. Web.

Kilańska, D., & Cholewka, B. (2016). In a changing environment, how to upgrade the skills of ‘under trained’ nurses to fit with the new current and future roles of nursing? – The nursing bridging program in Poland. Web.

Lucey, D. S., & Crossman, V. (Eds.). (2015). Healthcare in Ireland and Britain 1850-1970: Voluntary, regional and comparative perspectives. London, UK: University of London.

Majda, A., Ziarko, E., & Zalewska-Puchała, J. (2015). A consistent course of events or a series of coincidences: Nursing in Poland from the 19th to the 21st century. Nursing Inquiry, 22(4), 359-370. Web.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). (2018). Nursing/Midwifery. A career for you. Web.

Office of the Chief Nurse. (2017). Developing a policy for graduate, specialist and advanced nursing & midwifery practice. Web.

Serafin, L., Doboszynska, A., Kadalska, E. (2015). Doctoral education in nursing: A Polish perspective.

Ślusarska, B., Zarzycka, D., Dobrowolska, B., Marcinowicz, L., & Nowicki, G. (2018). Nursing education in Poland – The past and new development perspectives. Nurse Education in Practice, 31, 118-125. Web.

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Zgliczyński, W. S., Cianciara, D., Rostkowska, O., & Pinkas, J. (2016). Nurses in Poland – Staffing and training system. Postępy Nauk Medycznych, 29(5), 279-283. Web.

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