Five years in the EU: how does it show in the changing relations within health workforce
College of Health Studies University of Ljubljana Ljubljana, Slovenia
Sociological research in the field of health professions in Slovenia is relatively recent. However, it is possible to discuss changes of structure and agency of health care work in the last 15 to 20 years, covering the period when Slovenia separated from Yugoslavia and then joined European Union in 2004. The aim of the paper is related to the main theme of the Lisbon ESA conference: Is there a European society or European societies? It is obvious that regarding health care, national level is much more important that EU directives and recommendations, yet it is possible to track changes that could be interpreted in relation with the increased involvement of policies, institutions, professional groups and individuals on the European level.
The paper is based on several research projects which had looked into changes of health care workforce education, its characteristics and collaboration patterns since 1993. The author discusses some findings from those projects in the light of the broader European context. She reviews results of several studies on basic and advanced nursing education. Also, characteristics of nursing and medical workforce as shown by several surveys and qualitative studies are reinterpreted from a comparative point of view. Special attention is paid to inter professional collaboration between nurses and doctors and inter professional education for future health care professionals. Main feature of the actual health care in Slovenia is the central position of doctors and their dominant role in relation to other health professionals, public/health care users and the state. EU health policy fosters different and more equal power relations and is therefore a drive to change the existing situation. This shows (slightly) on the state level, (partly) on institutional level and very much so on the level of professional groups, especially nursing. Conclusions drawn from the existing studies remain hypothetical. More research, focused on European dimensions of the health workforce changes is needed in order to understand the dynamics of changes and its trends.