Marcin Radziwiłł, the President of Medicover Foundation, is leading several national campaigns and projects to improve the health and encourage a healthy lifestyle in Poland. Medicover Foundation is also the main partner of Queen Silvia Nursing Award Poland since 2016. During these years, the project gain lot of recognition from educational and governmental organizations as well as attracted lot of national media attention. We have talked with Marcin about the situation of nursing and nursing education in Poland, innovations that Polish students suggest to improve elderly care and shared reflections about project development and recognition in Poland. 

Please tell us how Medical Foundation started the Queen Silvia Nursing Award project in Poland and what was the main aim back then?

From the very beginning, we were inspired to get involved with the Queen Silvia Nursing Award. Originally, back in 2011, Medicover teamed up with one of the nursing academies in Warsaw and we started our nurse training program in Poland. In 2013, when the Queen Silvia Nursing Award was originally founded and established in Sweden, Medicover was there from the very beginning as a sponsor and partner. Once an opportunity appeared to bring the nursing award to Poland in 2016, of course, it was something we were very keen on supporting and bringing.

We know that the nursing profession needs as much support as possible, especially as the demographics show that the population is aging and more and more nurses who are dedicated and can see a path for themselves, will join. And it’s a matter of showing that this profession has many applications and a huge need.

After the first four years of Queen Silvia Nursing Award in Poland, what are the main takeaways? Was anything surprising or inspiring?

We see that there is a high engagement throughout the nursing students in Poland. Up until now, most of the winning ideas or the ones that have reached the final in the first three years of the award were highlighting the factor of loneliness and how elderly people need the essential thing of warmth and being cared for. If someone feels cared for, they respond better to care. 

However, now as the younger Polish students are coming in, we can see that the perspective of technology is more and more in the forefront. So, once the basic needs are taken care of, we can start using technology to improve other areas. And these are the main takeaways.

What do you think about ideas submitted during this cycle of Queen Silvia Nursing Award in Poland? 

The ideas are very inspiring because there’s a whole wide range of ideas and applications. Of course, each idea that came to the finals has benefits, but there are also the issues that one has to deal with and understand, whether it’s possible to implement the idea or not. And this is the dilemma one goes through when you’re judging ideas; they all seem great and you want them all to win. However, the devil is in the detail.

Could you say, what are the key areas in elderly care that need to be improved according to the nursing students in Poland? 

It’s the demographics, the aging population. Currently, the average age of nurses in Poland is 52. We have 72,000 practicing nurses who are already at their retirement age. So, we need to bring in more young people into the profession. We need to make it more attractive. We need to show the nurses, and this is what they’re telling us, that they too have a voice in being able to change their profession. 

Another downside that we need to change in Poland, is the number of beds that are available, within the senior care landscape for patients, compared to Western Europe. The infrastructure is far more developed and help is far more accessible in Western countries. And here we have a deficit, but we need to then catch up on because, by 2050, approximately one-third of the Polish population will be over 65.

Why Queen Silvia Nursing Award is important for Poland?

Queen Silvia Nursing Award is really important because we have started creating a platform and a dialogue within the nursing community. Over the last few additions, we’ve raised prominence and highlighted the importance of bringing in young people to replace people or nurses that are leaving the profession. We need to not only replace the nurses that will be leaving the profession within the next 10 or 15 years with new nurses, but we also need to give them reasons to choose this profession. We need to show that their ideas are listened to, that they can shape the industry and their profession.

Having someone from the outside such as Her Majesty Queen Silvia, who highlights and encourages and is the cheerleader in a very positive way, is something that we need.

The competition is gaining traction in Poland and is becoming very much supported by the nursing field, the academic, and educational institutions, as well as at government levels. So, we’re very happy that we have this award to be able to create this dialogue.

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