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Everything Doctors Need to Know About Working Abroad

Many doctors refer see working abroad as a marmite experience; some love it, some hate it. Being able to immerse yourself in a new culture and embrace adventure are two traits doctors will definitely need to have in their kit bag before embarking on the life change.

There are countless reasons as to why many head abroad to practice medicine. Some want a break from the health care system of their own country, whereas some head to underdeveloped countries to help those in need. Whatever has inspired you to ponder moving abroad to work as a doctor there is a lot to consider. Luckily, we have made things a little easier for you.

Considerations Before You Decide to Work Abroad

Moving abroad, particularly to practice medicine, is a big decision. The medical system could be completely alien to what you know or you could find it hard to become part of society. The best option is to seek doctors and medical professionals already living and working in your desired country. There are lots of forums online where you can get talking with like-minded people who will be able to give you lots of first-hand advice.

A lot of expat doctors do not also realise that returning home after working aboard and finding a new job can be difficult. Transitioning back to the culture and health care system of your original country is not without its hurdles and this is something doctors will seriously need to think about. However, if you intend to return to the same practice, you can sit down with your employer and arrange a sabbatical.

Another great way to keep connected with your home country in case you wish to return in the future is to keep in touch with colleagues.

Documentation for Practising Abroad

You cannot simply pack up your belongings, hop on a plane and start treating people in another country. You will need to jump through some hoops and the entire process can take between three and six months. This may sound like a long time, but you can research jobs during this period.

The paperwork required to work as a doctor overseas will depend entirely on the country itself. However, you will likely need the following:

  • Proof of an active medical license in your home country
  • An up-to-date CV
  • A valid passport
  • Passport-sized photographs for visa purposes
  • Professional references
  • A complete medical exam
  • A police background check

How to Find a Position as a Doctor Abroad

There are countless avenues to explore when it comes to finding a job as a medical professional in a new country. It can be confusing as to which option would suit you best and deliver the best result.

Securing Work Through an Agency

Many doctors believe using an agency is the easiest solution. Agencies are a desirable route because they often take care of all the accompanying paperwork, including visas, for the successful applicant. Some even go as far as to secure housing and transportation.

There are two types of agencies available to doctors; placement agencies and locum tenens agencies. Both will help you through all the necessary rounds of paperwork and legal requirements. However, they will operate differently once you actually start working.

If you secure a job through a locum tenens agency you will be employed directly by the agency, not the hospital or clinic you work in. Your salary will be paid by the locum tenens agency and you can receive benefits such as a property, car and some of your utilities covered. Usually, those employed by this type of agency will receive a smaller pay packet than their colleagues.

In contrast, placement agencies only help you find and secure a job. Outside of this, you are employed by the workplace which takes you on. Some placement agencies provide accommodation and transport whilst you settle in, but you will eventually have to arrange your own. It is highly likely you receive a higher wage through a placement agency.

Finding a Job on Your Own

If you plan on remaining in the country of your choosing for a long period of time it can be best to find a job as a doctor without the help of an agency. However, this does not mean you cannot utilise the help of the consulate or embassy of the country you wish to live in.

Regardless of how you manage to secure your dream job as a doctor abroad, you will need to make sure you have comprehensive international healthcare. Even with your expertise, you need to ensure you are fully protected whilst working abroad.

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