Celebrating 100 years of professional nursing and midwifery in Slovenia

Slovenian nurses and midwives have many reasons to celebrate. This small European Country has been very successful in meeting EU requirements in terms of improving access to health care services at all levels, which reflects itself in rapid raise of populations’ average life-expectancy. Nurses and midwives have a strong national nursing association led by President Monika Ažman and CEO Anita Prelec. The National Association is actively involved in public discussions and political decision making regarding the future of healthcare in Slovenia.

Slovenian nurses and midwives have many reasons to celebrate. This small European Country has been very successful in meeting EU requirements in terms of improving access to health care services at all levels, which reflects itself in rapid raise of populations’ average life-expectancy. Nurses and midwives have a strong national nursing association led by President Monika Ažman and CEO Anita Prelec. The National Association is actively involved in public discussions and political decision making regarding the future of healthcare in Slovenia. Equally, Slovenian nurses are represented in nursing movement internationally. Prof. Brigita Skela Savič, Dean of Faculty of Nursing (2006-2017), is a board member of International Council of Nurses until 2021.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that on the 9th of May 2019 Slovenian nurses and midwives joined the Nursing Now Campaign and on the 10th of May celebrated the 100th of anniversary of professional nursing and midwifery in Slovenia. To mark this significant historical moment, and to honor Angela Boškin (1886-1977), the first professional nurse in Slovenia, nurses and midwives all over Slovenia gathered to the 12th national nursing congress in Kranj Congress Centre, Brdo. The meeting was opened by the Health Minister, Aleš Šabeder, and on the second day honored by the presence of the Slovenian Prime Minister, Marjan Šarec, who in his speech acknowledged that nothing in life happens without nurses and midwives, and thus, their voices must be heard.

Among the invited speakers attending the congress were Dr. Tom Keighley, Consultant in Healthcare Leadership and Education, UK; Wendy Nicholson, Chief Nurse, Maternity and Early Years Directorate Public Health England; and Dr. Piret Paal, Coordinator of the WHO CC in Salzburg, Austria. Although the speakers concentrated on different areas of nursing, a great number of similar concerns were raised. Among the challenges discussed in Slovenia were the brain drain, quality of care deficits, high nurse burnout, gender gap, job dissatisfaction and intent to leave current positions. According to Dr. Keighley, across EU, the countries fail to meet the EU directives – one of the most burning ones being the Professional Qualification Directive (2013/55/EU). This is due to the lack of general education, nursing not taught by nurses, lack of resources for teaching, lack of mentors in clinical setting, lack of research application skills among nurses, implementation of health services without nurse leadership, and ignorance towards benefits of multi-disciplinary working. As pointed out by Nicholson, to meet global health challenges nurses have to step up to make the impact of nursing contribution evident to decision makers as well as the public. This means collecting and publishing evidence based reports that concentrate on in- and output of specific nursing-related services as well as telling stories about nursing. Therefore, nurses need to become active in social media, which seems to be the only way to transform and strengthen the nurse leadership globally. Dr. Paal tackled the topic of establishing high quality end care in long term care facilities. In aging society the dying will be prolonged, and thus, care intensive. The great concern is who will take care of us (and how) when reaching the old age, being fragile, suffering from mental ill health and other physical discomforts. EU has recognized that the rising burden of chronic disease and multi-morbidity requires tackling the complexity and fragmentation of current services. Solutions that allow patients’ and caregivers to express their individual wishes as well as professional caregivers’ to collaborate across social and healthcare services are of great importance. However, to meet this challenge on site, will depend on involving staff up-front in the key decisions rather than implementing ready-made programs or hiring external consultants.

After the plenary session the ICN REGION 3 Meeting with representatives from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Macedonia, Monte Negro, Kosovo, Slovenia, invited speakers and Dr. Aiga Rurane, Head/WHO, WHO Country Office in Slovenia took place. Constructive discussion was led to agree on joint agenda for the upcoming ICN meeting in Singapore.

At the award ceremony on Thursday evening ten Slovenian nurses and midwives were honored with National Medals of Merit for their life-time achievements in education, leadership and practice. Hence, the 12. Slovenian National Nursing Congress was a wonderful power demonstration of Slovenian nursing and midwifery. The meeting left all participants with the feeling of pride, belonging, and a dear wish to meet again. Thank you, to all organizers and hosts and congratulations to all nurses and midwives!