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    Kafkaesque24 is offline Newbie 510 points
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    How do I become a doctor in Europe

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    If I graduate from a medical school in the United States how can I gain residency at a hospital in Europe? I am mainly looking to to live in Vienna, Germany, or Zurich. If I am proficient in German because that was my undergraduate major, how would I go about becoming a doctor in Europe? Thank you.

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    devildoc8404's Avatar
    devildoc8404 is offline Ultimate Member 12699 points
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    Ha... German Language/Literature was my undergrad major, as well.

    OK, your first hurdle is to get your medical diploma accepted by the governmental authorities in Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. The process will vary between the countries, obviously, and I am only completely familiar with the Swiss system because that is where I work. If you are interested in Germany and Austria, contact the (good) medical recruiters there... they will work with you, assuming your German is good enough -- meaning B2 at a minimum, with C1/C2 preferable -- and they know the national systems for approval intimately. Germany is probably the most likely landing spot for a foreign graduate, and your US medical education and passport will stand you in good stead there, both for hospital hiring purposes and for immigration/work permit considerations.

    On the other hand, Switzerland is significantly tougher. This is in part because it has the highest salary for residents anyplace (far higher than in the US or Germany, for instance), in part because the training and hospitals are excellent, in part because the work conditions are humane, and in part because... well, it is Switzerland. Now, unless you have EU/Swiss citizenship you will not be able to get permanent approval from MEBEKO in Switzerland, especially without an EU/Swiss diploma. However, you might be able to be hired as a resident physician (Assistenzarzt) -- you still will not be allowed to write any Facharzt examinations after 5-6 years without taking the Swiss medical graduation exams. Which sucks, of course. But it is doable -- I know people who have done it, and it is not required at the outset, so that is cool. You would just need to apply for membership in FMH (the Swiss Medical Federation) and VSAO (the Organization of Swiss Medical Residents and Fellows), and with that you can usually be eligible to be hired as an Assistenzarzt in most cantons. MEBEKO approval can wait until later, assuming you actually get offered a job in CH.

    So... if the FMH/VSAO stuff all works out, then you need to scan the bloody internet relatively-obsessively to find the postings for Assistenzarzt positions at hospitals in places that interest you. OK, Zürich is a great city, yeah. Buuuut let´s be honest... you are not the only person who knows that. Everybody and their freaking St. Bernard puppy wants to live and work in Zürich. The competition in Switzerland is already pretty cutthroat in general, and the Zürich hospitals are not going to be a likely landing spot for most foreign graduates trying to find an initial foothold in the Swiss system. You could end up in Zürich later (since residents must almost always work in at least two different locations in the Swiss residency training system, anyway), but if you honestly want to work in Switzerland I would look at applying and starting training in other cities that are still awesome but are not necessarily Zürich.

    I would also look at the specialties that have the most openings, even if they are not your dream job, because they will probably provide the easiest point of entry. If you can get hired for a year in SOMETHING, then you are in a good spot. Once you have completed an initial year in the Swiss system in that specialty, even if it was not something that you wanted to do long-term, you are in the Swiss system and you have some flexibility to move laterally, both geographically (Zürich, eventually?) and professionally (your dream residency, maybe?). Remember also that some first years of training can be used a bit like a rotating internship in the US, where it counts as a year towards your eventual specialty. That depends on what the position is, and what you want to do, but it is possible.

    The nice thing about Switzerland is that there is no Match to wade through, like there is in the US. If you can make some good contacts, and find attendings who dig you, then you might well have a shot. It is definitely not easy, but with a little luck and some hard work, I will say that it is definitely worth it. It is technically possible, assuming your paperwork with FMH and VSAO is in place, to interview for a position, get hired, and start the next week... assuming they like you, you kick butt in the interview, and your German is up to snuff. Getting the interviews is one of the harder parts, especially as a foreigner. I only got two interviews in Switzerland. I did not get the first gig, but I was offered a position from the second interview within 18 hours (it then took almost 8 months for me to get my diploma and have it FMH/VSAO approved, but that is another story and it was not Switzerland´s fault). Anyway, it can go that fast, or it can literally take months to get a job, and plenty of people never even get an interview at all, it just depends. There is no doubt about it, I consider myself incredibly blessed and lucky.

    I hope that helps a bit. Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions. I am a working stiff now, so I am not on here as much as I used to be, but on days off (LIKE TODAY!!!) or when ED-schedule-induced-insomnia hits you will find me lurking the VMD.

    "When I haven't any
    blue... I use red
    ."
    - Pablo Picasso

    BA - Oregon ° MS - BYU ° MD - MU-Sofia
    Clinical Research Fellow / Resident
    Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman 1996-2003


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