Featured Doctor

NESSLER, Dr Katarzyna

Poland - WONCA Europe VdGM preconference chair

Katarzyna Nessler is the chair of the Host Organising Committee of the preconference of the Vasco da Gama Movement (for European young family doctors), coming up in Krakow 2018, in association with the WONCA Europe conference. (Photo: Piota Krol Fotographia)

What work do you do now?

I became a specialist in the field of family medicine, in October 2017. For two and a half years I have been working as a General Practitioner in a family medicine practice which now takes care of over 3500 of adults and children.

I have also worked and trained in a few foreign countries, like Australia, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Ireland and now I am trying to introduce all the ideas and experience gained into my everyday practice.

Since 2016, I have also been working as an assistant in the Department of Family Medicine at Jagiellonian University Medical College, in Krakow, Poland. Before that, I was a PhD student in the same department for four years. I finished writing my PhD thesis two years ago and was awarded my doctoral degree in November 2016.

Besides my medical research and GP practice work, I have also strong academic interests. I am the supervisor of a family medicine interest group for medical students, at the Jagiellonian University Medical College. I absolutely love my academic work and I must admit that working with these future doctors gives me a lot of satisfaction. 

Your involvement in the Vasco da Gama Movement and your hopes for the VdGM Pre-conference in 2018?

I am a member of the Executive Board of Polish College of Family Physicians and also I have been in the Executive Group in the Polish Young Family Physicians Movement. Since 2014 I have been the Polish Representative for the Vasco da Gama Movement.

To me, my engagement in Vasco da Gama Movement (VdGM) is very important. Through this organisation I have been able to see how family medicine is organised in other European countries and I have had the opportunity to exchange ideas and visions. I have been an active and enthusiastic participant in all WONCA Conferences, VdGM pre-conferences and fora since I started my general practitioner training in 2012. When I get back from the conferences I try and implement what I have learnt into my every day practice and present this to my students.

After a few years of involvement with VdGM this year I have the privilege of chairing the Host Organising Committee of the pre-conference at the WONCA Europe conference in my home town, Krakow. I must admit this is definitely a big challenge but together with my team we are working hard to turn this event into a success. I have contributed with my knowledge and experience in organisational matters but also my passion for exchange of ideas across the borders.

Together with my team we hope every participant of Krakow pre-conference will find what Vasco da Gama Movement gives – namely: inspiration, motivation, opportunities for meeting other enthusiastic young family doctors, time for essential discussions until the late hours, and getting tons of ideas and perspectives on all aspects of our field.

We have prepared an interesting programme with inspiring key note speakers, variety of practical workshops and exciting social programme. It is going to be intense, so all my friends who are coming to Krakow in May - please rest before you come!
More on the VdGM preconference

What is it like to be a young family doctor in Poland?

This is a difficult question for me to answer as I am not what could be considered an average young family doctor in Poland. The combination of being a GP, researcher and academic teacher is unfortunately not very popular in Poland. I believe that young GPs have a lot of possibilities in Poland. I am not saying it is an easy job and everything is perfect because that wouldn’t be true. Knowing the history of family medicine as a medical specialty in Poland and comparing the situation of young GPs several years ago to our situation now, I must admit it is much easier at the moment.

To become a family doctor in Poland there are four years of training, of which approximately two are spent in a GP office, the other two in other clinical fields. After completing training there is a MCQ test and then an oral exam.

Most of the time it is possible to choose where you would like to do your residency training. From my perspective our (young GPs) voice is heard, we are having the opportunity to discuss proposed changes in the system, we are involved in creating the pre-diploma and post-diploma family medicine training courses. I believe it is very important that we are involved in such activities at every possible opportunity.   

You have a strong interest in research – what have you studied?

For a number of years now in my clinical work I have been especially interested in diabetes and dyslipidaemias. Before becoming a medical doctor, I studied biotechnology and now I am trying to combine those two fields of medical science. My PhD degree investigated the influence of type 2 diabetes on the HDL-cholesterol profile and searched for a correlation with inflammation and oxidative stress in patients with ischemic heart disease. This research has been recognised a number of times primarily through the European Union scholarship “DOCTUS” for innovation and practical potential. Another area of special interest is the problem of influenza vaccinations in Poland.

I have been doing research for over seven years now and for the last six years I have been trying to bring the results from my academic study into my practice of family medicine. I am also the author of a few recently published papers in Polish and international medical journals. In all my scientific activities I have been strongly supported by my professional supervisor and academic mentor Professor Adam Windak.

What are your interests outside work?

I am the wife of a busy plastic surgeon and a mother of two energetic sons. We love to spend time together being active. In my family sport is very important and I love playing tennis, swimming and skiing. My dream is to run a marathon together with my dad. The distance of a marathon is too far for me at the moment (not for my dad) so I will keep on practising and maybe one day it will be possible.

Other than that I love travelling. With my family we have visited many countries and continents and there are still so many places that I would love to see.