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Non-admission of foreigners to the practice of medicine: one tries to help and the other refuses to accept it

The attempt to help the Slovak health sector by staffing long-term vacancies with foreign medical professionals is most accurately illustrated by the Shooty picture called Rebel. Foreign medics were offered help, free of charge and repeatedly, both in the first and second waves, in testing, as well as to cities and municipalities, on any suitable terms, but - it didn't work out. We don't want to. We're not interested. Go away. Shooty and the Slovak public see the picture from different angles, but in the silliness, timing, substance, and connectedness of the demonstrations are incredibly close. It is about saving lives, about one person trying to help, to which the other responds by saying no.

Slovakia only helps to integrate "on paper"

According to the Center for Research on Ethnicity and Culture (CVEK), in an international comparison of integration policies, the Migrant Integration Index (MIPEX), we have a slightly unfavorable situation: 39 points out of 100, below the EU average.13 The study looked at the situation in 52 countries and was published before Christmas. The Slovak approach to integration is described by MIPEX as "equality on paper" and points to bottlenecks in the mobility of third-country nationals in the labor market, including health care workers. They are the ones who have the hardest time. Their work in Slovakia is so difficult that only a few can cope.

What is a regulated approval and its impact on foreign health care providers

A regulated authorization is a profession or professional activity that requires the fulfillment of qualifying conditions set forth in a number of specific regulations . Regulated professions include, of course, doctors and nurses, who are much needed these days, but we, Slovakia, as a country, have managed to prevent them from using their permit, even though they are already here. The basic requirement for obtaining a medical permit is education, and in the case of foreigners, recognition of education obtained abroad is required, which is done by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic. Although this is only the first step in a series of bureaucratic obstacles, it is interesting to note the variety of ways in which we have made it impossible for specialists to work in our territory. The main predilection of Slovak officials is certainly bureaucracy..

Let's take an anesthesiologist from Ukraine as an example. Although we have an agreement with Ukraine on academic mutual recognition of document equivalence, it is only valid for the purpose of further education. Thus, if our anesthesiologist wants to continue his/her studies in Slovakia, he/she will not need anything, not even an apostille on the diploma and the diploma supplement, since the diploma will be automatically recognized. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs does not need a certificate of accreditation of the educational institution, nor a fee of 100 euros, nor translations worth hundreds or thousands of euros. But if an anesthesiologist wants to work in our country the Ministry suddenly finds itself unable to find out if the Ukrainian school is accredited, so our anesthesiologist has to personally travel to his home country and ask for an original certificate of accreditation and an apostille for the diploma. All of this he has to wait in Ukraine for several weeks.

Another predilection is the shifting of responsibility to another. In this case, it is the Ministries of Education and Health, which are the main administrators when it comes to foreign health workers. When the MoH is asked about the number of graduates who passed the professional medical exam, it immediately shrugs off responsibility and points to the Ministry of Education, even when it comes to doctors. The MOH does the same when it comes to the shortage of medical specialists and methods of non-existent training; after all, it is the MOH that should solve this problem.

Three steps and all blocked

Throughout 2020, no foreign nurses were introduced in Slovakia. In other words, zero foreign nurses were added. However, in 2020, as in previous years, nurses were removed from the registry. Specifically, 123 more nurses were lost in 2020 (737 newly enrolled and 860 removed), and DennikN predicts that more will be lost after the coronavirus epidemic.

We need to take 3 steps to accept help from foreign nurses:

  1. legislate to allow them to do so
  2. prepare the conditions for their work
  3. attract and motivate them to come and settle in.

We still have the first step unresolved, and we legislatively make it impossible for the majority of medical workers who are already in Slovakia to use their authorization. In addition, we are blocking them from coming from outside, which is the exact opposite of what our neighbors do, and the exact opposite of what Slovakia needs not only in normal times, but even more so during a Сoronovirus crisis.

In March, there will be professional exams for doctors in Košice and professional exams for nurses in Trnava, which may allow new specialists to enter the system. However, there is no training for medical professionals in these schools. There is a persistent attitude in Slovak schools and authorities that foreign medical workers suddenly have to know everything, including Slovak laws and bureaucracy. Therefore, there are no training questions, only topics. Thus, step number two also does not work. Step number three is not even worth mentioning.

The need for a government commissioner for foreigners

Foreigners in Slovakia make up 2.6% of the population, more than 145,000 people, and their number has been growing since 2004. The largest number of foreigners are from Ukraine and Serbia, up to 88 thousand people. There are 10 government plenipotentiaries in Slovakia, including those for smaller communities. One of the advantages of having a plenipotentiary is that it brings a different perspective on an issue, which gives it a different dimension. There are a number of NGOs and civil society organizations that deal with foreigners, but they are not allies of the government, and specific bills are not intertwined with practice, so perhaps such an institution could help us.

Why don't we use the potential of doctors and nurses that we have? Why don't we save the lives of our citizens...?

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