Far away from the crowded centres of our civilization, New Zealand is fairly small in population (ca. 4.4 million), but blessed with a rich diversity in its nature and landscape, as well as a pleasant climate throughout the year. Combined with the praised serenity of the Kiwis and the country’s modern economy, New Zealand is a popular destination not only for tourists, but also for immigrants. According to the Medical Council of New Zealand over 40 % of the more than 12 000 medical doctors have trained overseas; they come from over 100 countries.
Registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand
To practise medicine in New Zealand, doctors need to be registered with the country’s Medical Council. To this end the Medical Council checks the applicant’s fitness for practice.
English language communication skills are a major prerequisite for registration. The only accepted language test is IELTS academic level with required minimum scores of 7.5 in each speaking and listening and 7.0 in each writing and reading. More details and acceptable alternative requirements to IELTS are laid down in the Medical Council’s Policy on English language requirements of October 2010.
Further to this, there are different pathways to registration. They mainly depend on the doctor’s training institution and background, as well as work intentions. Doctors trained outside of New Zealand and Australia are normally first registered within a provisional vocational (specialist doctors) or general (non-specialist doctors) scope of practice, i.e. they have to work under supervision for at least 12 months. Generally speaking, registration is most straightforward for doctors trained in UK and Ireland (Competent Authority pathway), whereas doctors trained in countries considered as “Comparable Health System” – including many EU countries, Canada, USA, etc. – need to show several years of work experience. Other non-specialist doctors need to pass the NZREX Clinical Exam at the level of a recent New Zealand graduate.
A special purpose fixed-term registration is available for doctors coming to work in New Zealand temporarily, e.g. as locum tenens (specialist doctors) for up to 12 months or for a part of their post-graduate training (less than 2 years).
A very useful tool to check, which registration pathway may be applicable to you, can be found on the Medical Council’s website. In addition, the Medical Council offers a service called request for registration advice for a reasonable fee, click here.
Further to medical registration overseas-trained doctors normally need a work permit and – if the intention is to stay permanently – should gain residency. Further information is available from the Immigration New Zealand website.