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Why I try to help foreign medical workers in Slovakia

The reason why I try to help foreign health workers is very clear to me. We have a staffing crisis in the health sector, and foreign medics are one of the solutions. Also, I am selfish: my family lives here, as well as people I care about, and I want to do my part to make sure they have health care. I have been working with foreign medics since 2008 and know the situation in practice and how it has changed over time. Unfortunately, I have to say that Slovakia, although it needs health care professionals, does nothing to attract quality foreign health care professionals. On the contrary, it prevents them from coming to Slovakia.

We have a situation where hospitals are forced, for example, to hire a nurse from Ukraine or Russia as a cleaner in order to get her into the system and thereby at least partially cover the staff shortage. The reason for this, in my opinion, is politics and the fear of decision makers of the arrival of even the most educated foreigners.

Changing the law on health care workers - we asked to add three or four words, but to no avail

For the past three years I have been writing and talking about how difficult it is for foreign health workers in Slovakia and why. We do not have enough doctors and nurses, and expecting Slovak doctors and nurses from abroad to return to Slovakia, as well as the arrival of EU-educated nurses, is illogical, stupid and naive, to say the least. On the other hand, we have erected insurmountable barriers to nurses from third countries, such as Ukrainians, at a time when other European countries are actively attracting them. It seems that we do not listen to common sense, do not see statistics and projections for the future. Changing the law to allow them to arrive, integrate, and prepare is a way to begin to address this situation. The Health Care Provider Act is first on the list. He could allow the first step, which is to come to our territory for the purpose of training to do an internship in the health sector. This is how it works very successfully almost everywhere in the EU. I regret that the proposed change to the law, which was passed in parliament a few weeks ago, does not include the 3 words that I have been actively drawing attention to for the last 2 years. Temporary vocational training currently applies only to doctors and university nurses, and only in nursing facilities
(read - only hospitals). I find the shortage of doctors and nurses in the outpatient sector disastrous, and I regret that the amendment does not include this area. In addition, the ability to integrate into the system would not be available for high school nurses, nor would dentists, who are also badly needed. It would have been enough to add three or four words: ambulance, nursing, and dentists.

However, I am glad that the internship period is no longer tied to the period of the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, because of the unclear length of the internship period, only health care workers who are already in Slovakia could take the internship. In 2021, only 12 candidates passed. And again only 12 medical workers. And that is for a whole calendar year. The proposed change could certainly increase the number of those who complete the internship.

Fun fact

The bill eliminates the mandatory certification of, for example, foreign speech therapists, psychologists, or physicists, which makes up most of the text of the amendment. Paradoxically, in my opinion, speech therapy and psychology is not a job for a specialist whose native language is not Slovak. After asking about freedom of information, I found out that there are currently 168 speech therapists in Slovakia, and exactly zero of them are from third countries. I am glad that there is some logic in practice, but it is a pity that we do not allow the professionals we need to work in the system.

The truth is that the problem is so complex that a number of laws need to be changed, and for this we need to bring together representatives of several ministries (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs), as well as medical practices.

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