The profession of psycho-oncologist in Poland as an example of inadequate legal regulation in the area of health care
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Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach
Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach, Collegium Medicum,
Kamila Kocańda   

Uniwersytet Jana Kochanowskiego w Kielcach
Submission date: 2022-05-31
Final revision date: 2022-08-17
Acceptance date: 2022-08-17
Online publication date: 2023-03-09
Publication date: 2023-03-09
The profession of psycho-oncologist in Poland is not sufficiently regulated by law. The issue is further complicated by the fact that this profession has not been classified by the legislature in the group of medical professions, but only in the group of allied health professions. Currently, according to the Regulation of the Minister of Health on guaranteed services in the field of hospital treatment, a psycho-oncologist is a person with higher medical education, i.e. a graduate of a medical university, for example a doctor or a nurse, who has fulfilled the additional condition of completing postgraduate studies in psycho-oncology. It is thus clear that the legal definition of the profession of a psycho-oncologist remaining in force is inconsistent with the regulation of this profession in force since 2018, resulting from the announcement of the same minister in the Polish Qualifications Framework (PQF – Polska Rama Kwalifikacji, abbrev. PRK). This is because the PQF limits the group of persons who may obtain a qualification in the area of psycho-oncological diagnosis and treatment to psychologists and psychiatrists only, thus limiting the group of persons authorised to practise the profession of a psycho-oncologist. An additional legal problem results from significant differences in the nature of the professions of a medical doctor and psychologist, due to the fact that the Act on the Profession of a Psychologist does not apply in practice, despite remaining in force formally. Thus, a psychologist who practises the profession of a psycho-oncologist, might additionally be a subject to the lack of legal regulation of their “foundation profession”, for example due to the fact that it is impossible for a psychologist to obtain a licence to practise their profession, as there is no body to grant them such a licence. Finally, it should not be overlooked that, in addition to the two contradictory regulations of the profession of a psycho-oncologist mentioned above (Regulation of the Minister of Health and the PQF), there also exists a third path to obtain the so-called psycho-oncologist certificate, awarded by the Polish Psycho-oncology Society (Polskie Towarzystwo Psychoonkologiczne – PTPO). At present, persons certified via this path, who include, apart from psychologists and doctors, also representatives of other professions, such as nurses or clergy employed in hospices, will in the majority of cases not be able to formally practise the profession, because the legislature has not provided for the recognition of certificates issued by the PTPO as equivalent to obtaining a psycho-oncological qualification in the context of the above-mentioned regulations.