Poland – Doctors

More than 130,000 medical doctors work in Poland to serve the country’s population of over 38 million. The Polish medical schools are attractive destinations for many international students, whereas its local hospitals are in fierce competition for qualified health professionals with other EU countries, especially the UK and the neighbour Germany. Doctors’ salaries are generally lower than in Western Europe, but so are the costs of living.

Poland and neighbours map

How to become a doctor

There is a variety of medical schools to choose from, including in big cities such as Gdansk, Katowice, Krakow, Lodz, Lublin, Poznan, Szczecin, Warsaw and Wroclaw. The duration of courses, which are frequently offered in English, ranges from four to six years.

In order to practice medicine in Poland, graduated doctors (in Polish: lekarz) need to obtain a license from the competent regional chamber of physicians (Okręgowa Izba Lekarska, “OIL”) and with this automatically become their members. On national level the Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists (Naczelna Izba Lekarska Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) is both competent authority and professional representation for medical doctors.

Hurdles for doctors trained abroad

EEA and Swiss nationals trained in EEA or Switzerland normally benefit from automatic recognition of their diplomas and medical specialty according to EU Directive 2005/36/EC and its Annex V. Graduates from third countries need to have their diplomas checked and certified for equivalence to the Polish diploma. Foreign university graduates further need to provide a certificate of passed examination in the Polish language. Recognition of qualification and language proficiency are prerequisites to obtain a license to practice medicine from the OIL and become their members. Initially a limited license of temporary validity is normally granted, e.g. for completion of internship or an adaptation training course. For most exact information on licensing procedures and required documents etc. contact with the Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists or the regional OIL office is recommended.

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