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Study of Specialist Nurses in Europe

This study has been commissioned by the Internal Market Directorate General of the European Commission (Reference XV/98/09/E). The contents of the study do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission. Copyright is reserved.

The report is roughly 800 pages long. The first part of the report introduces the nursing professions across Europe making general observations about the structure and characteristics of the profession and the types of nurses within it. There follows a description of how the EC mobility rules apply in principle to the main types of nurses outlined. This is followed by nine general mobility flow charts which illustrate the parts of EC law which apply to particular situations.

There then follows a summary of the position in each Member State. This explains the types of nurse that are trained both at the branch level and the post-basic specialised level, the main rules for the taking up and the pursuit of nursing courses and the modes of pursuit of the profession in that country. This is followed by an analysis of the level of training in terms of both domestic and EC law. Finally there are charts which illustrate for each Member State the basic categories of nurses and their specialities as well as the level of training required under domestic and EC law.

The next part of the report comprises the bulk of the report. Each country has a chapter which details the types of nurses that are currently being trained. The next fifteen chapters are collectively 615 pages long. They explain for each country:

  • the basic characteristics of the nursing profession
  • which titles are protected and how they are protected
  • the fields of activity of the various types of nurses
  • if all of these fields are protected and how
  • the rules dealing with the practice of nursing
  • the rules for taking up nursing
  • the type of institution for the training of nurses
  • the educational level of those institutions
  • charts detailing the training requirements for the specialist areas

The final part of the Study looks in more detail at the real situation of nursing and the legal mobility issues that confront it from a comparative perspective. In this final section the main obstacles to mobility are outlined and a series of transfer flow charts are set out to illustrate the rules to be applied in the case of a direct entry nurse. One of the main difficulties from the point of view of the law on mobility of nurses is that of direct entry nurses with a limited sphere of training. Such a nurse might, for example, be an Austrian psychiatric nurse. In Austria this nurse is prohibited from working beyond this sphere of activity and therefore may not take up general care duties. Moreover she/he is trained at a secondary level. Such a nurse is very likely to have difficulty in moving, particularly to countries where the psychiatric nurse is a post-basic specialised nurse. The home state qualification of the Austrian psychiatric nurse will not be covered by the sectoral directives for nurses and yet, the host state requires a nurse to be a general care nurse before allowing them to specialise in the care of psychiatric cases. This represents a real obstacle to mobility and is an illustration of the kind of issue tackled in this final part of the Study.