Interview with Nicoleta Candea Muntean

Nicoleta Candea Muntean is a teacher of psychiatric nursing, lawyer and councillor for the Liberal Party in one of the district councils of Bucharest. She is one of the advocates of a specialised professional education for nurses in psychiatric institutions.

She herself has followed a training programme for psychiatric nurses in England. Candea teaches at the Fracaritatis School, founded by the Brothers of Charity from Ghent. This is the only recognised education in Romania for psychiatric nursing.

The Fracaritatis School has started eleven years ago. Professor Oancea, who teached child psychiatry at Bucharest University, acted as principal together with the Belgian brother Stokman. All teachers were medical doctors. Even now all principals of training colleges for nurses still are doctors. It is difficult to get nursing recognised as a specialisation in its own right within the medical world. Candea has worked for 26 years at the Obregia Psychiatric Hospital. In her spare time she studied law, to be more effective in her struggle to improve the position of nursing as a profession.

As early as 1990 she was the secretary of the Romanian Association of Nurses. An English organisation offered her the chance to follow a training programme for psychiatric nurses in England. She accepted gladly, expecting to be able to work as a pioneer in Romania with this diploma. ´But my diploma was not recognised. Neither were the diplomas of others who took training in psychiatric nursing abroad. Only last year, after teaching courses in psychiatric nursing for ten years at the Fracaritatis School, we have been recognised. We had to do an exam and they looked at our working methods on film’.

Until 2001 the nursing profession was not legally defined in Romania. ´We have taken the legal structure of the medical profession as a starting point, and tried to develop a law on nursing on that foundation’.

Now this law exists since 2001. Does it imply professional autonomy for nurses?

Candea:´Not yet. The mentality in the hospitals is strongly dominated by doctors. Even a specialised nurse will not be considered an equal member of the team. A nurse will not be in a position to choose new nurses either. The hospital board talks to the applicants’.

´Now that all hospitals start to have computers it is high time to organise a database where vacancies in nursing can be found’, she says. ´If you want to change jobs, you have to know where to go’.

She is a member of a Ministry of Health committee charged with the development of standards for different nursing specalisations in hospitals. ´At the Fracaritatis School I teach about standards. That is one of my modules’.

Outreaching nursing in Romania is recognised only as maternity nursing.

Candea: ´I have worked with professor Oancea, who is involved in several national programmes, on a job-description for community nursing care. At the Fracaritatis School we have a programme for community nurses, but they are not officially recognised and can work only for private organisations, all sponsored by NGOs. Probably this will change in future, because community nursing is in the European standards’. Government still does not pay for the education of psychiatric nurses.

Candea is hopeful after a recent statement of the Education Minister. ´He declared that he wants changes, based on the European standards’.

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