Europejska Fundacja Rozwoju Medycyny i Edukacji
What is important to know about internships and summer practices in Polish hospitals

What is important to know about internships and summer practices in Polish hospitals

Medical students and practitioners go for internship abroad when they want to learn more about working in European clinics, as well as to exchange experience with foreign colleagues.

In this article, we collected useful tips from experts of the Euromed Foundation, which will help a healthcare worker to undergo internship with the maximum benefit. In addition, we will consider the main mistakes made by the practitioners, according to Polish experts, and will show you how to avoid them.

Characteristics of the work of Polish doctors

The main characteristic of medical activity in Poland is strict observance of the law and work protocols. In this country, the patient’ rights are remembered and personal data are protected. Interns are not always allowed to see how the documents are filled out, because there is written personal information about patients.

A Polish doctor has the right to disclose private health information only by leave of the court. Even patient’s friends and family members cannot always learn about his/her health condition. Doctors will disclose this only to those whose names are indicated by a patient in the medical record.

In each department, there is an employee responsible for document retention. This employee is responsible for audit conduction. If he/she finds out that the medical record has been left unattended, the offending doctor will be in big trouble. You cannot just throw away the papers that are no longer needed – they are destroyed in a shredder.

For each medical service, the doctor first requests the written consent of a patient. Exception – only if it comes to life saving.

Depending on the age of a patient, the consent to treatment is signed by

  • Under 16 years: parents or guardians of a child.
  • 16-18 years: parents and, if possible, a teenager himself/herself.
  • 18 years and older: the patient himself/herself.

What can an intern or practitioner do in a Polish hospital?

By law, a foreign healthcare worker does not have the access right to a patient during internship. Practitioners and internship participants are allowed to supervise work under the guidance of Polish doctors.

However, sometimes this rule can be circumvented. If an internship participant wants to try to do something during a surgery or to perform a procedure on a patient, he/she discusses this with the doctor who takes responsibility: it is specified what part of the procedure, etc., the intern can perform individually.

This part of the practice is not required for interns and may be dissembled in the hospital. But, if the intern has a strong motivation, he/she wants to learn about a procedure or surgery as much as possible, he/she may be allowed to:

  • Assist during surgery – serve the instruments;
  • Stitch a wound;
  • Apply a bandage;
  • Conduct the primary examination with consent of a patient.

The information about intern’s participation in practical skills is not recorded in the official hospital documentation. The doctors are responsible for the practitioners and interns they are assigned for.

What is important for an intern to remember: expert’s personal opinion

If an intern lacks initiative, or, on the contrary, wants to show it where it is prohibited, or if the code of ethics and deontology are violated – this can lead to:

  1. Lack of initiative. The scope of knowledge and experience that an intern gains in a Polish clinic depends on himself/herself only. In order to get the maximum benefit, it is not enough just to come for practice or internship. It is important to show the doctors your desire to see more: ask questions, stay for additional hours, earnestly ask permission to attend surgeries and help to do something individually.
  2. Work without permission. Nothing can be done without curator’s permission! Practitioners are never left without “supervision”. But even if by chance there is an opportunity to individually perform some procedures, it is important to obtain permission of a curator!
  3. Failure to comply with the rules in terms of confidential information. First of all, it applies to private health information and personal information. It is prohibited to leave any documents unattended, take photos and distribute them. If a practitioner negligently leaves the patient’s analysis results in the hall, the hospital will punish the doctor who is responsible for him/her.
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