Home to almost 17 million people, the Netherlands (often called “Holland”) has been an attractive destination for tourists and immigrants from all over the world. Thanks to its central location there are many commuters from the neighbouring countries Germany and Belgium. And virtually all European capitals are within just about two hours flight distance from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The country’s healthcare and social welfare sector currently employs ca. 1.3 million people, and according to the Dutch government many more health professionals are needed in the future to account for demographic changes.
How to become a doctor
Medical studies (duration: 6 years) can be completed at eight universities in Amsterdam (2) Groningen, Leiden, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Foreigners are advised to turn to their faculty of interest to learn about admission requirements, curriculum and possible costs.
Graduated doctors may decide to do speciality training (normal duration: 4-6 years) under supervision in a recognised hospital. Specialty training is coordinated by the Committee for the Registration of Medical Specialists (MSRC) of the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG).
To be allowed to work in the Netherlands, all medical doctors must be included in the BIG-Register. In addition, medics may become members of the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) in order to get support on various professional issues.
Hurdles for foreign doctors
Doctors with a non-Dutch medical qualification have to pursue the “international registration route” to be entered in the BIG-register.
EU/EEA/Swiss doctors may simply apply for direct enrolment in the BIG-Register, based on the automatic recognition of their qualifications following EU Directive 2005/36/EC. Even though official exams are not required, sufficient Dutch language skills are of course normally needed for the work.
Non-EU/EEA/Swiss doctors first need to obtain a Certificate of Professional Competence, before they can be included in the BIG-Register. To this end doctors have to pass successfully a general knowledge and skills test (‘AKV’) and a test of professional medical knowledge (‘BI’) at the level of recent Dutch graduates, for which fees apply. The AKV test also includes checks of Dutch language competence at a level of the NT2 (Dutch as second language) state examination. If the BI test reveals shortcomings, extra training advice will be given or the entire Dutch medical studies must be completed.
In addition, non-EU/EEA/Swiss doctors normally need residence and work permits. More information can be obtained from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service of the Netherlands.