The Polish Association of Professional Nurses

Professional nursing in Poland, preceded by nursing schools, has started in the mid-20ties of the 20th century. Professional beginnings of the first graduates were difficult, as they entered communities where no one had met a registered nurse before, and novelties had not been kindly welcomed. School managers has set up the graduates’ organizations since 1923, to enable easier carrier for them. Their members shared experiences, clarified doubts, developed strategies of working in difficult situations, received new knowledge, bond relationships.

After some time activities within school communities become not sufficient, wider contacts and more experiences from other schools were expected, in such important issues like better care for the patients, professional ethics, and improvement of the profession’s situation.

During the meeting of the Warsaw Nursing School Graduates’ Circe, its director Helen Bridge suggested a professional organization to be established, including graduates of different schools. The first National Assembly took place on April 1925, when the Polish Association of Professional Nurses (PAPN) was set up. Its members wore a special brooch. Maria Babicka-Zachertowa became its first President. At the beginning PAPN was a federation of graduates’ circles of three schools – Warsaw, Poznań and Cracow – and numbered 70 of 75 of all the graduates. Another schools joined in the following years.

The most important PAPN tasks were:

  • monitoring nursing status and maintaining in on an adequate level,
  • cooperation for further professional improvement, along with research development,
  • promotion of rational nursing, including cooperation with other organizations related to nursing directly or indirectly,
  • cooperation within preventive hygiene development,
  • professional relations among the nurses, promotion of internal cooperation.

See: S. Poznańska, Pielęgniarstwo wczoraj i dziś. Warszawa: PZWL 1988, p. 91.

Realization of these tasks required meetings, regular contacts with nurses from abroad, participation in international congresses, and publishing professional journal.

PAPN was an exclusive organization only for registered nurses; that assured uniform influence on professional development.

Annual assemblies enabled different important initiatives and helped in solving social or economic problems.

PAPN became a member of the International Council of Nurses in 1925.

The Association begun organization of 3 months long courses in 1930 – first in community nursing, than specialist courses for the instructors (10 days long). A special commission consisting of experienced nurses was set up, offering correspondence counseling. Monthly meeting and the “Polish Nurse” professional journal (started in 1929) aimed in continuing education.

PAPN published also the books, like Zabiegi pielęgniarskie (Nursing inverventions) by Teresa Kulczyńska and Hanna Chrzanowska in 1936. In 1938 the “Wytyczne dla Pielęgniarki Społecznej” (“Gudelines for Community Nurse”) journal has started, edited by Hanna CHrzanowska and Wanda Lankajtes, concerning work in different fields of community nursing.

The great achievement of the PAPN was the first important legal document – the Act on Nursing Profession – prepared together with the Health Department of the Ministry of Social Care, and accepted by the Parliament in 1935. The Act regulated essential professional issues, like professional practice, time of education, range of practice, requirements of establishing and managing schools, in particular the rule precising that a nursing school can be managed only by a fully-qualified nurse.

The National Assembly in 1938 accepted many changes in the PAPN statutes. For example regulation, that the Association can consist not only of graduates’ circles, but also local organizations of registered nurses. Five such organizations expisted: in Lvov (managed by Marta Dolińska-Dobrowolska), in Zagłębie Dąbrowskie (with Halina Kozierowska), a Silesian one (with Pelagia Kajzerówna), in Łódź (with Lubow Szwechłowicz), and in Wilno.

See J. Kaniewska-Iżycka, Rozwój pielęgniarstwa w Polsce do roku 1950. Warszawa 1987 part I p. 77).

Impressive activity of the PAPN was interrupted by the WW II outbreak on September 1, 1939. German occupational authorities closed the Association and it’s journal either. All nursing schools except the Warsaw Nursing School were closed.

Elaborated by Barbara Dobrowolska