The WellSpan Spotlight

Awards and recognitions

Polish nursing delegation visits WellSpan sites

Polish nursing delegation visits WellSpan sites

A Polish nursing school group recently toured two WellSpan sites, to see how a U.S. health care system cares for patients.

The group included three students and three faculty members from the State Academy of Applied Sciences in Wloclawek, a city in central Poland that is more than twice as large as York. Visiting as the guests of York College of Pennsylvania, the group toured the WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital and the cardiac rehabilitation area at the nearby WellSpan Heart & Vascular Center on the Apple Hill campus in York.

The visit was an extension of WellSpan's ongoing relationship with York College of Pennsylvania. WellSpan offers clinical experiences for students in the college's nursing, radiologic science, recreation therapy, and medical lab science programs. It also offers non-clinical internships for students from the college.

The group's visit to York follows a trip made to Poland last year by a group of York College students and Klaudia Cwiekala-Lewis, Ph.D., a York College assistant professor of nursing and native of Poland who spearheaded the exchange program.

During the Polish group's week-long trip to the U.S., the students and faculty visited a community clinic in York, the York City Health Bureau, and other medical sites, in addition to the WellSpan sites, ending with some sightseeing in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Most of the visiting Polish nursing students, like many of their fellow students in Wloclawek, are older than traditional college students and are pursuing nursing as a second career – one student is a mother of three children. Nursing is an attractive field in Poland because it offers job security and there are many opportunities, Lewis said. The training takes three years for what would be equivalent to a bachelor's degree in the U.S. and five years for what would amount to master's degree here.

The exchange program highlighted the differences and similarities between nursing and nursing training in the two countries, Lewis said.

"When we were in Poland, they showed us hospital, a hospice for kids, a homeless shelter, and a wellness center," she said. "For our students, it was interesting because Poland is very holistic in their nursing care. People are not just told to take medication, but also that you need to rest, drink, and exercise, and here are some herbs you can take."

Rosa Hickey, chief nursing officer and senior director of patient care services at WellSpan Surgery & Rehabilitation Hospital, said to compare and contrast the nursing education preparation is extremely valuable.

"All of us can share with each other," she said.  "Our staff is proud and open to opportunities for improvement.  We welcome the opportunity to work and learn from our international nursing colleagues."

Lewis said she hopes the Polish students come away from the visit "knowing that nursing is a gift and that we should be very humbled to be able to enter people's lives during what is often the most stressful time. That doesn't change wherever you are on the globe. I want them to know they are not alone. We are all striving to do the same thing."