Situated by the Atlantic Ocean at the western end of Europe, Portugal with its 10.5 million inhabitants is one of the smaller EU member states. However, as a result of the country’s long history as a maritime and colonial power, Portuguese is amongst the most spoken languages on earth. It is also spoken in Brazil and the African “PALOP” countries (Portuguese: Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa), with Mozambique and Angola as the biggest ones. Consequently, migration to Portugal from these countries is increased, also with regards to medics. Close cultural, political and economic ties persist in particular with Brazil.
Foreign doctors have been on the increase also in Portugal lately. And even though the economic and medical training situation is more challenging these days and salaries may be higher in some other countries, many still prefer living and working in Portugal because of compelling factors such as friendly people, rich culture, good weather and the ocean.
How to become a doctor
There are universities in Portugal’s biggest cities Lisboa and Porto, and also in Braga, Coimbra, Covilha and Faro. They offer courses of normally 6 years leading to the medical graduation (licenciatura em medicina).
Postgraduate training posts to learn a medical specialty (internato médico) are allocated through annual national examinations (concursos). Medics need to submit their applications by a certain deadline to the ACSS (Administração Central do Sistema de Saúde), the regulator in charge of the management and co-ordination of medical specialty training. The call for applications is launched once per year in August/September – interested doctors are advised to check the ACSS website regularly. The ACSS also has a useful set of FAQ on application process and required documents.
In order to practice medicine, all doctors have to register with the Portugese Medical Association (Ordem dos Médicos).
Hurdles for foreign doctors
Postgraduate training is generally also open for foreign medical graduates, but is becoming increasingly competitive. However prior to your application, you should obtain registration with the Ordem dos Médicos as well as proof of medical communication skills (Prova de Comunicação Médica – PCM), if the teaching language at your medical school was not Portuguese. The PMC test is organised by the Ordem dos Médicos, you can obtain further information from there.
EEA/Swiss doctors benefit from automatic recognition (Directive 2005/36/EC) of their medical degrees obtained in these countries. Similar alleviations apply to Brazilian doctors, based on a bilateral agreement between Portugal and Brazil. For medical degrees from other third countries equivalence needs to be certified by a Portuguese university. Doctors from third countries also face stricter immigration requirements and normally need working visa.