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Hidden potential of foreign doctors in Slovakia

Slovakia lacks doctors and nurses. According to the Ministry of Health itself, 3,500 doctors are missing, and if we take into account doctors of retirement age, then already 5,500. The number of nurses absent exceeds 15,000.

However, Slovakia already has doctors and nurses from abroad who would also like to work in medicine, but cannot fulfill the conditions for carrying out their professional activities due to the complex process of recognizing their qualifications. The system is the same as in other EU member states, as it is governed by a general directive, but we would not be in Slovakia if we ourselves did not voluntarily complicate this process. These health professionals are therefore engaged in other professions that are not regulated and for the most part outside the health sector.

In response to this situation, the University Hospital of Bratislava (UNB), in cooperation with the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic, launched a pilot project earlier this year to hire support staff in Ukraine in order to attract doctors from Ukraine. However, the state itself has long been ineffective in terms of the conditions of employment of doctors on its territory and is not able to simplify the conditions for the arrival of foreign doctors interested in working in Slovakia, at least as it happens in neighboring countries.

About the pilot project "Ukraine" and the Institute of Temporary Professional Training

The pilot project "Ukraine" is something that society does not pay attention to. Perhaps because of this, the project "Ukraine" is automatically identified with another innovation, namely with the institute of temporary professional training, which should come into force in the form of a law from September 2019. According to the official version, this change will help foreign doctors prepare for professional exams, but so far in practice it looks like it will allow them to work as paramedics, because we urgently need to involve auxiliary medical personnel in the system, otherwise it will collapse.

It is very difficult to find detailed information about the project "Ukraine," which is a completely different activity of the Ministry of Health and is intended only for Ukrainian citizens.

However, Ukraine already suffers from a shortage of doctors who have left abroad and are now actively involved in Slovakia. According to various analyses, the shortage of doctors in Ukraine ranges from 60 to 100 thousand. However, salaries there are 5-10 times lower, and therefore some of them are not concerned about the lower positions of support staff in Slovakia. Nevertheless, we are starting to recruit in Ukraine and do not inform Ukrainians who already live in Slovakia about this possibility, and perhaps it is worth turning to doctors of other nationalities who are also already in Slovakia, but are doing something else because they cannot work in the health sector.

Foreign doctors in Slovakia in examples

I know many names of foreign doctors in Slovakia and they can be divided into 4 groups.

  1. Young doctors, mostly from Ukraine, who do not resist work and do not refuse even the post of orderly. But some of them have specialized education, such as surgery, urology, etc. They see this job as a earning opportunity. Some of them believe that this is a temporary state of affairs, that over time they will pass exams, but there are also those who believe that the situation cannot be changed.
  2. Doctors who work as masseurs, there are many of them, for example, in Piestany, or cosmetologists, or are engaged in a completely different business. Take, for example, a pediatric surgeon from Uzbekistan who does business in the construction industry, or a doctor who has his own dance school.
  3. Doctors who do not want to do other work than the one they finished and prefer to stay at home. I know of cases where wives and husbands are not breadwinners.
  4. Doctors who are recognized professionals in their state and do not want to do routine work. They tried to cooperate with universities in Slovakia, but they were not allowed to do so. They do their job, coming home to perform predetermined tasks. This attitude is very understandable, because it is like asking an IT expert to clean up an IT company.


It is illogical to leave the hidden potential of foreign doctors living in Slovakia unused. Foreign doctors in Slovakia begin to unite with non-governmental organizations, and you can at least communicate with them. We only need the dissemination of information and support from the authorities, and the situation will improve.

Recognition of diplomas should be transferred to medical faculties and universities, as it happens in Slovakia, for example, with unregulated professions, but in the Czech Republic it also happens with doctors. Why are we worse? The Ministry of Education could become a secondary authority and be responsible, for example, for appeals. Thus, schools will recognize their foreign colleagues and may begin to communicate more. Currently, the Ministry of Education is just an unnecessary bureaucratic intermediate stage in the recognition process.

All projects of the Ministry of Health are aimed at attracting young foreign doctors who can withstand the work of students, temporary workers or the least qualified personnel. It would be worthwhile not to humiliate foreign doctors and not to attract them only to the least attractive positions. In the end, let's not be so modest, let's stop being a cheap assembly shop and start attracting better specialists from abroad.

Qualified doctors from abroad are where to begin.

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