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Immigration to Slovakia from a foreigner's point of view: workers are welcome, doctors are shocked

I've been dealing with health issues for some time. Crowded emergency rooms or long queues near the doctor's office are unpleasant phenomena of life, which probably every resident of Slovakia faced. So it is surprising that while conditions for hiring workers in automobile and other factories are eased, the state is putting sticks in the wheels of qualified foreign workers with medical education.

Urgent visits to the hospital in Kramary with sick children are a real nightmare, and I am trying to understand why this is happening and how this can be solved. Healthcare in Russia has always been the focus and pride of society, although, of course, not always. But I believe that we should strive for this and not be indifferent, because our health and the health of our children is the most important thing.

The emigration of doctors abroad in search of a better salary, lack of interest in studying medical specialties and insufficient educational potential cause a serious problem of lack of medical workers in Slovakia. Simply put, I can call it "demand." In my work, I meet a fairly large number of certified doctors from Ukraine and Russia who are interested in coming to Slovakia to work, and often these are "ready" people, specialists with experience in this industry and a similar language background. I will call this a "partial sentence."

Of course, we also need to work with the "Full Offer" factor, which means that we must create conditions, not only financial, but also working conditions, for the return of Slovak doctors to their homeland and, of course, suitable conditions for future and current doctors. However, why not also take advantage of what the world of opportunity offers us now to at least partially create the balance patients are asking for? In neighboring Czech Republic and Poland, doctors have the opportunity to quickly overcome the language barrier in language schools from which they can choose, and in cooperation with hospitals, they can prepare well for additional and specialized exams. In Slovakia, our language school iCan wants to provide language training for medical graduates from third countries, but it is in vain looking for cooperation with universities. Therefore, I am struck by the statement of the press secretary of the Ministry of Health: "The experience of universities to date has shown that the main reason for the low percentage of successful passing of the additional exam is an underestimation of the preparation for the additional exam, as well as insufficient knowledge of the state language, while one of the main conditions for the implementation of the medical profession by foreigners is the knowledge of the state language to the extent necessary for the implementation of the medical profession." Well said, but have you given these doctors the opportunity to be trained? Have training courses been organized and training programs announced? And if language schools asked you for help, were you ready to cooperate?

I also know the opinion that few qualified doctors come from Ukraine, and therefore they are neglected. That is why I consider it necessary to acquaint you with a specific case of a pediatrician from Donetsk. She came to Slovakia in 2015 with her two children and husband, shortly after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula. This is a highly qualified specialist whom I, as a mother, would be glad to see as a pediatrician for my children. She and her family wanted to start a new life in Slovakia, away from war, safe for their family. By profession, she is a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases in children, who practiced for more than 25 years before her departure, for the last time right in the center of the Donetsk-Lugansk armed conflict. In addition to this practice, she worked for many years as a respected teacher of postgraduate medical education at Ukrainian medical universities.

Despite the fact that it was very difficult for her and her family to leave their home country, all relatives, friends and colleagues, she and her husband made this life decision in the hope of a better and safer life for them and especially for their children and chose Slovakia. This is not an isolated case of doctors leaving Donetsk and Luhansk, and I know more such cases. Few fought as hard as she did for the opportunity to pursue her profession in Slovakia, and yet her efforts ended in failure. After a year of complicated administrative process, she was denied. However, in the Czech Republic, she received permission without any problems! She praises the approach to the nostrification of education, the simplicity of procedures, the availability of textbooks to prepare for the exam and the generally clear and functional system.

Thus, Slovakia has lost a pediatrician, and I am very upset about this. About a year ago, our pediatrician retired and for several months I searched in vain for a replacement for my children and, unfortunately, to no avail. As a result, we got into the largest network of clinics in the country, where our pediatrician changed for the third time in this short time... Apparently, they are also not enough there.

Is this state of affairs a consequence of indifference to solving problems in Slovakia or is the prevailing opinion that doctors from Ukraine are of poor quality and we do not need them? Why do we open the doors for workers from Ukraine and do not let specialists, although we really need them? In the end, all we need is a little help from interested institutions and, above all, the political will to make it work and that not only foreigners with incomplete education come to our territory, but also professionals who will improve the overall quality of life. Neighboring countries have long understood this.

Current articles by Alona Kurotova are also available at