top of page

An interview with Giedrė Balčiūnienė of Lithuania

What sparked your interest in nursing studies?

I have been working as a nurse for 25 years. I knew I would be a nurse since my childhood. My decision was not surprising as there are doctors, nurses and a veterinarian in our family. During my childhood, I spent summer holidays with my aunt who worked as a medical worker in the local village. She used to take me to work. And it was my first opportunity to see the daily life of a healthcare professional.

Now, after so many years of work, I can already say that I am a nurse by nature. The work is very hard, but I'm not looking for the easy way out. My first work after medical studies was in the surgery room. There was a lot of tension and adrenaline, but I realized that the more difficult it was, the more interested I became.

By the way I have twin daughters, who are currently 22 years old. One daughter chose architecture studies and the other – NURSING. It is interesting to watch how my girls, who grew up in the same environment, can be so different. The daughter studying architecture asks, “Who can choose nursing, after all you even have to change diapers?!” But the nursing student twin replies, "Is there any problem with that?”

What is it about nursing that continues to intrigue you, or keeps you learning and "On Your Toes?"

What motivates me the most is the real opportunity to help people every day. I see how patients arrive to our ward feeling powerless or even barely alive. After a while he leaves on his own feet. And for me, this is a great joy.

I think, in order to be a good nurse it is very important to have love and respect for others. When doing this job, you need to love both younger and older people. Internal drive is also required. The work is hard and the salaries... well - if a person works only for the money, nursing isn’t the answer. Frankly, I think the nurse needs to be born.

Is there something unique about nursing in Lithuania?

There is still the sting of post-Soviet medicine in Lithuania. When functional medicine prevailed, the nurse was an executor of the doctors' instructions. However, the situation is currently changing, and it is pleasing. The nurse is already an important member of the team and can make more and more patient-centric decisions.

It is very important to me that the public's attitude towards nurses changes. But I understand that much depends on the nurses themselves. One must want to improve every day and to apply innovation in practice.

I try to keep up with it. This year I received my third diploma - I completed my Masters Degree in Nursing and Obstetrics at Klaipeda University.

I am pleased that the evolution of nursing in Lithuania is moving in the right direction. Now there is a much greater opportunity to learn and improve. Not only with a Masters in Nursing, but also a PhD. In addition, there are so many innovations at work that facilitate nursing processes.

What could you say about young nurses in Lithuania? Do you notice any differences?

Panevezys Republican Hospital, where I work, is a college training base, so I often communicate with nursing students. I am the supervisor of practical work, and I participate in exam commissions. In addition, I give lectures and conduct training at the Nursing Specialty Training Center at the Institute of Hygiene.

It is fun to watch the evolution of the next generation of Lithuanian nurses. Nurses are now much bolder, ambitious, curious, wanting everything and are highly motivated. It is only a pity that so few people choose this specialty.

How did you come up with your winning idea?

For the Queen Silvia Nursing Award, I proposed an idea that came up out of practice I called a “smart stoma content dialer.” I work in the General and Abdominal Surgery Division as a senior nurse and often care for people who have stomas - a hole in the abdominal wall for the intestinal contents to leave the body. Stoma can be temporary or for life.

The newly formed stoma causes not only psychological but also physiological challenges for many patients. People must accept it and learn to live with it. Without changing the bag in time, the sour intestinal contents leak onto the skin, burns it, and then wounds can form.

Studies show that 40-55 % of patients suffer from such skin lesions within the first 3 months after the establishment of the stoma. If you have to glue the bags onto the affected skin, it sticks to the wounds. Also, under the plate, the skin does not heal. This is a evil circle to break. My idea is that the bags could make a signal when they are full and it is time to change them. This is especially important for older people or for those who have dementia.

Do you think Lithuania needs such awards as the Queen Silvia Nursing Award?

Such contests are much needed. This is a great way to be heard, to pay attention to the problems in care, and to offer a solution. At the same time, it is also a way to meet colleagues and nursing experts from other countries to share experiences. I look forward to May 10-11, when we will meet at in Stockholm for the scientific conference as well as the Grand Ceremony at the Royal Palace.

bottom of page