Retirees to Help the Healthcare System, When Interns Have Been Waiting to Work for Years?

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Retirees to help the healthcare system
Retirees to help the healthcare system

October 30, 2020 – ‘You call on retirees to help the healthcare system, which is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the pandemic, and prevented us young and educated health workers who want to work?’ criticized the representatives of the Facebook group “Interns in Uncertainty” (“Pripravnici u neizvjesnosti”).

As Več Kovačević Barišić reports, 1277 health workers are waiting for an internship that is not being announced.


They will wait for 7 years?!

It is a group of about 1800 young people waiting for an internship, and among them are as many as 1277 health workers: bachelors and masters of physiotherapy, occupational therapy, radiological technology, sanitary engineering, medical laboratory diagnostics, midwifery, and high school occupations such as physiotherapy technicians, sanitary technicians, health laboratory technicians, dental technicians, nurses, etc.

By law, they are required to complete an internship of 12 months to obtain the conditions for taking the professional exam and obtain a license for independent work. However, they are waiting for that internship for a year, two, or even five.

“While we are waiting for the competition for interns, we must be registered to the Employment Bureau and we must not be employed outside the profession, otherwise we cannot apply for possible competition. However, although the internship is mandatory, it is not advertised. This year, it was suspended due to COVID, and in September, only 170 internships were provided at the state level for all health professions,” describes Nikolina Bočkaj, a bachelor of physiotherapy.

She has been waiting for an internship since September last year. The internship was removed for doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, midwives, and biochemists who started school in 2013 and later.

Josipa Maras graduated from a four-year high school for nurses in 2013, after which she completed her studies in physiotherapy. She still wants to work as a nurse, but as she is from the last generation in which an internship is mandatory, she has to do it, and to this day she has not received one.  

“There is a lack of several thousand nurses in Croatia, and we are sitting at home and waiting for an opportunity to work! There are about twenty of us in the group of nurses who have to do an internship according to the old program. Now an internship has been announced for one nurse in Dubrava, I have applied and I hope they will accept me,” said Josipa.

Even without a standstill due to the pandemic, the situation was unsustainable because new generations of health workers who also need internships are educated every year. They calculated that at this rate and quotas, 1277 of them will need more than seven years to complete the internship, not counting the new generations, so they say:

If it is obligatory, why is it not possible? If it cannot be enabled, why is it not abolished?

They addressed individual chambers, the Ministry of Health, but without an answer.


Beroš: We are looking for a solution

“No one sees us, and we would all be very useful in health care. For example, physiotherapists can help a lot of those who get over COVID-19, people who were on respirators, we can train them on how to breathe properly. We would agree to a lower salary to work that year,” says Nikolina Bočkaj.

Minister Vili Beroš is aware of the problem.

“The internship of health workers is prescribed by law and is important for the preparation of health workers for independent work. Until 2020, for many years, the internship was financed by the Croatian Employment Service. For 2020, the CES quota is 170 trainees, so together with other stakeholders, we will take measures to ensure that the remaining health workers perform their internship. This is one of the many inherited problems facing the Ministry of Health, and despite the many challenges of the current pandemic, we are looking for solutions to these issues as well. We have contacted the Employment Bureau on several occasions to determine concrete steps,” the minister replied.

The Croatian Chamber of Nurses recognized the problem and initiated its solution two weeks ago, says Mario Gazić, the chamber’s leader.

“We collected data from nurses without a completed internship, there are about 70 of them. Today, I sent a proposal to the Minister of Health, Vili Beroš, to contact the directors of certain hospitals so that they could invite these nurses to do their internship as soon as possible. About 70 of them responded to the chamber survey, most of them are midwives, while a smaller part is bachelors. Most of them are in Zagreb (31) and Split (13). The invitation to these nurses to contact us in the Chamber is still open,” said the president of HKMS Mario Gazić.


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