Home to 76 million citizens, the Republic of Turkey is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Negotiations to join the EU are still ongoing. Turkey’s economy has been growing in the previous years along with falling unemployment rates, unlike in most other European countries. Tourism is flourishing and “medical tourism” as a newer phenomenon is also gaining importance, as patients from mainly European and Arab countries come for medical treatment or plastic surgery in the country’s private hospitals and health centres. Provision of healthcare in Turkey has long been reserved to Turkish medics, but recent reforms allow also foreign doctors to work in private hospitals. State-run hospitals are expected to follow soon.
How to become a doctor
The normal duration of medical school in Turkey is 6 years, consisting of preclinical term, clinical term and internship. The country has been increasing the capacity of its medical faculties since 2007. Already today, a significant number of graduates are non-Turkish. Entrance exams and tuition fees may apply. Additional teaching language at some universities is English.
The majority of doctors working in Turkey are members of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), the professional association and trade union for doctors in Turkey.
Hurdles for foreign doctors
The Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) is responsible for accreditation and overseeing the employment of foreign physicians.
Only since 2011 foreign doctors have been allowed to practice medicine in Turkish hospitals and medical centers belonging to the private sector. However, the following is required:
- Turkish authorities’ certificate of equivalence of foreign qualifications with Turkish standard
- Residence and work permits
- Professional liability insurance.
In addition, proficiency in Turkish language needs to be proven. Foreign doctors need to pass a language exam administered by the universities’ Turkish Teaching Application and Research Centers (TÖMER). Medical training and learning Turkish language in parallel may be admissible.
In an attempt to fight the chronical shortage of doctors in Turkey, similar rules and requirements are expected to enter into force also for state-run hospitals by the end of 2014.
Today the number of foreign doctors working in Turkey is still relatively low comparing to other European countries, but due to the mentioned law reforms and many foreigners studying medicine in Turkey it could rise in the near future. Foreign medics come mostly from Azerbaijan, Iran and Syria. Most recently Turkey has also invited doctors from the western neighbour Greece to work as resident physicians at universities in the country.