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Don't we really need nurses and doctors?

In December, a government regulation was approved, effective from April 1 of this year, which will allow 3,000 highly qualified third-country nationals to arrive. Their arrival should contribute to the recovery of the economy as well as to the health of the population in the post-pandemic period. Unfortunately, however, they do not include high school nurses or doctors with an education recognized in Slovakia (trainees).

Resolution of the Government of the Slovak Republic

They can come for 90 days to a maximum of one year and on the basis of a national visa, which will be issued with the interests of the Slovak Republic in mind. This is a less bureaucratic route compared to temporary residency, where the employee, employer, employment office, and foreign police all have to work closely through already overburdened Slovak consulates. National visas are widely used by the Czech Republic, Germany, and Poland and, in addition to reducing administrative costs, have been attracting foreign talent to their territories for years. It does not take a glass ball to predict that the struggle for workers in scarce professions will only intensify in the future.

The decree includes a list of professions with higher added value for the national economy, which is divided into 5 groups, such as managers, IT workers, healthcare workers, scientists and researchers and other technical workers. Unfortunately, for health care workers, this is another thing that, although it is included in the legislation, will not help them in practice.

And here are the reasons:

  1. The ruling counts only on foreigners with college degrees, which means it can't be used by nurses, who mostly have a high school education, although nurses are sorely lacking.
  2. For the record, the ruling is incredulous to count on graduates from one of the top 500 universities in the ARWU world rankings. Harvard ranks first, and Comenius University, while we are pleased to be the only university there, ranks 801-900. Why, please, are we imposing a condition that even a graduate of our oldest university cannot meet? But lawmakers generously allowed such foreigners with higher education, who graduated from any university in Slovakia or the Czech Republic, to come on a national visa (this is added by another clause in the decree).
  3. Doctors, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, university nurses and midwives - even if they are on the list of professions with high added value, unlike high school nurses - cannot take advantage of the Ordinance. This is because if a doctor qualified as a doctor outside the EU, it does not automatically mean that they are also a doctor in Slovakia or the EU and that their training is recognized. They can become a doctor or nurse in our country only after their qualifications are recognized.

The entry of foreign doctors and pharmacists, nurses with higher education and midwives from third countries to Slovakia is complicated and regulated by several laws and procedures. Most of the regulatory restrictions can only be dealt with upon arrival in Slovakia, such as the professional examination. An employer cannot promise them a job without fulfilling all the legal conditions before they arrive. We are regulating that, unfortunately, medical workers with diplomas from third countries do not know and cannot take full advantage of, and I regret that we did not allow general practitioners to come in after their education was recognized in Slovakia (trainees).

Statistics and Conclusion

By 2025, according to one projection, the Slovak economy will need about 335,000 people as an additional workforce. Approximately 75% of these additional jobs will be replacements for workers who are retired and in need of medical care, as well as caregivers for social service homes. In addition, according to the latest Eurostat data, by 2070 Slovakia will be the second most aging economy in the EU (after Poland).

In solving the problem of personnel shortage in the health care sector, we focus mainly on utopian ideas about the arrival of specialists from the EU and believe in the return of Slovak health care workers working abroad. It is for this reason, among others, that Slovakia today has no program for attracting foreign medical workers from third countries, but has legislation that is adopted in contradiction to practice.

Current articles by Alona Kurotova are also available at