During the pandemic, doctors, nurses and caregivers quickly became heroes in the eyes of the vast majority of Czechs, which is no wonder that an image of a nurse at the Bulovka Hospital Prague’s COVID-19 station was selected as Czech Press Photo of the Year in 2020.
And many think it is right that they are seen as such because those doctors, nurses and health care professionals often pushed themselves to the absolute limit. Despite hospitals introducing hygiene measures early on and making sure staff were among the very first in the country to be vaccinated, the Czech Medical Chamber says some 12,000 doctors, 30,000 nurses, and 25,000 hospital staff contracted COVID-19 by late June 2021 – 34 doctors and 54 nurses died as a result of becoming infected at work.
Interest in medical care professions increases
Interest in medical care professions was so low that Czech hospitals had to hire personnel from abroad. The number of Czechs now taking entrance exams for health care training programs has increased by more than 50 per cent over the past year. The pandemic created demand for those professions. COVID-19 showed how vital the sector is. Many young people saw serious action on the frontlines of the fight against the coronavirus and they are not about to let themselves be scared away, quite the opposite in fact, they are pursuing careers in the health system.
Still, despite the growing interest in health care training, the Czech government has yet to adequately finance training institutions. That means these cannot accept any more trainees than they could prior to the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic also sparked interest in volunteer work at health care facilities.