Practicing medicine abroad is a world away from what many physicians are used to. While many doctors have dedicated almost their whole life to American schooling, rotations and residency, the urge to move to a new country for personal or professional reasons may have physicians itching with the travel bug to relocate.
However, many doctors are unprepared for the conditions they are faced with abroad which can lead to unforeseen challenges. Here are just a few ways that getting involved with health care can differ abroad and how physicians can prepare.
Understanding medical licensing.
Understanding medical degrees and licensings is the first step for doctors looking to relocate abroad. While the United States mandates that doctors may only practice in the state where they have obtained a license (not country, state!), there are a few workarounds for those wishing to take the plunge across the pond.
Try negotiating with local medical systems. Oftentimes, those looking to get ahead in the medical system will enlist a recruiter who is familiar with the local industry. A recruiter can help navigate some of the more tricky negotiations, such as starting positions and additional licensing a physician may have to undergo. Many times, recruiters can shave off certain specifications a physician may need and speed along the process dramatically.
Residency part two.
We shuddered a little bit, too. Many doctors hoping to go abroad will be required to redo their residency in a the country they hope to practice medicine in. While this logically makes sense, it can still be a bit of a kicker for the doctor with 20 years of experience looking to practice medicine under the Tuscan sun.
Before driving off into the sunset, make sure to know exactly how long residencies take in different locations and whether or not an application is involved. While residencies in France can last between 4 and six years, residencies in Germany can be almost half that with the right certifications.
Assessment of skills.
Even if physicians have full certification stateside, they will still need to submit the proper paperwork to practice medicine in their new location. While these assessments will be primarily based on skillset, those looking to make the move abroad will need to be proficient in the language of their home country. Germany, for example, requires physicians to test at a B2 level on the European Languages Certificates test in order to be considered. Pro tip: prior to taking the test, physicians can refresh their skills with Mango Languages!
After getting the results back, work either directly or with a placing expert to negotiate contracts, length of residency and salary. While residency is inevitable after any relocation, some countries may let you fast track the residency program based on other factors like previous certifications, relevant internships and practice area.
Understanding new countries’ medical programs will be invaluable when relocating abroad. For more general tips on relocation, take a long at the HR Manager’s Toolkit.