Archive for January, 2014

From the physician’s office through the school to Germany


Recruitment of physicians: From the physician’s office through the school to Germany

Many clinics and hospitals in Germany are looking for doctors. There is a lack of local doctors. More and more physicians from the south of Europe and less from Poland are applying for jobs. The first obstacle is the language of the employer’s country.

(photo: Particularly provincial hospitals are looking for doctors)

Even the best foreign doctors will be doomed to failure if they do not support their medical knowledge with a decent knowledge of the local language. Polish – Scandinavian company Paragona has been preparing doctors to work abroad for more than a decade; during this time 2,000 physicians and their families have been relocated. Rather specialist doctors are sought in Scandinavia, junior doctors at the beginning of their careers – in Germany.

The other side of longevity

(photo: For three months the doctor’s office is replaced by the classroom)

Everywhere operates similar self-perpetuating mechanism: the longer we live – and we live longer thanks to the development of medicine – the greater is the demand for medical care.
– Today, in Western Europe – says Adam Ringer, CEO of Paragona – the last year of life of a patient costs 25 percent of the total medical expenses incurred during his/her entire life.

Specialties offered to foreign junior doctors after taking a job in Germany are usually associated with the consequences of the population ageing. The head of the German project in Paragona, Zuzanna Jendryczko, lists in the first place geriatrics, internal medicine, neurology and orthopaedics .

Hospitals in the German countryside are almost exclusively recruiting foreign doctors, in cities of 40 – thousands or a similar size. At the beginning a salary of the resident is approximately 4,000 euros, but in a relatively short period of time it raises from shift bonuses, says Ms Jendryczko. And Mr Ringer indicates the similarity to small football clubs, which quickly lose their well-trained players. In this case, after gaining the second degree of specialization doctors from small towns quickly move to Hamburg , Munich, Berlin. And in the countryside, the search for their successors continues …

Linguistics and Medicine

(photo: Candidates are usually distinguished by their young age)

Before they move abroad, candidates in white scrubs go back to school. In Germany and other countries knowledge of the language is required at least at B2 level. This is slightly higher than the average level of the EU scale. The minimum is A1 (let’s say, the level of a simple chat ), while the peak is C2 (native academic, as is generally accepted, the English term is called the peak of linguistic knowledge). Added to this some important complementary subjects are: medical terminology and procedures , specifics of health services in the country. Diplomas of the EU medical colleges are indeed widely recognized in this area; it only makes the case easier but still does not completely solve it.

Candidates to work in clinics in Denmark, Sweden or Norway do not even need to know the Scandinavian languages at the start. We know they are not popular languages. As a result, the study takes longer. Before they meet the teacher face to face, these people take a preliminary course online for two months. Skype is invaluable. And then, as the candidates for Germany, they intensively study at the Paragona Campus in Warsaw for 3 months. Every day, from 8 am to 5 pm! Phew …

At the end, there is an exam at the Goethe Institute and certificate of B2 level. Doctors-students live on the Paragona Campus. Previously, the company has to verify their documents, check if they had not had any convictions for medical errors and provide translations of their papers. Only sworn translators are at stake for the partners from Germany. In total, the cost of the recruiting substantially amounts between 16 000 to 17 000 euros per person.

Polish withdrawal, Greeks are attacking

(photo: Zuzanna Jendryczko and Adam Ringer are preparing for talks with a new German partner)

– No, the candidates are not charged with these expenses. On the contrary, during the period of study they receive scholarships, a compensation for loss of earnings – explains Mr. Ringer. And he adds: – Charging the candidates for the costs would be unethical. In the result of the implementing other rules and forcing the pace, the unprepared professionally candidates leave the hospitals. Or they gain a status of a student for the foreign doctor who is not able to communicate fully with the German patient. Zuzanna Jendryczko adds that the trainee salary is 400 euros.

Future employer pays for the course, translations, tests. The investment is profitable. Statistics show that for years 95 per cent obtained in this way doctors are attached to the new place of work and residence. Promotions strengthen ties. Paragona’s observations show that a different passport does not restrain the way to the top.

Of course, all work and no play. Before the doctors start to climb towards B2, they visit potential work places. They get to know the hospital, supervisors, living conditions in the city, they are going to – or not – live. If everything works fine the interested ones sign the preliminary contracts. Then, they have to study hard …

No longer on the gravy train

A few years ago, Paragona was sending abroad mainly Polish doctors. Today they are definitely a small minority. The financial situation of doctors in Poland has improved significantly and here Adam Ringer sees the reasons of fleeting interest in the job offers from the west. Also, the observation of Zuzanna Jendryczko that German wages ranging between 5000 – 5700 euros a month are not as it used to be a bait for Polish specialist doctors. Yes, you can add various bonuses, but you have to subtract 40 percent tax. And even if you reduce it by a family or other kind of allowance, the balance does not seem extra attractive. And you need to consider accommodation to the new conditions of life and everything that goes with it.

Such calculations are not carried out by a number of doctors from the south – from Spain, Portugal, Greece, Romania. There is the highest unemployment rate among physicians, there are many seekers of new opportunities. The road to the promised land for all is similar: runs through B2 …

Michael Jaranowski , Warsaw
Red. Malgorzata Matzke

Translation by Paragona

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Paragona campus in the Norwegian media


Our campus was visited by a reporter from Norway. He was observing the doctors during the Norwegian class. Below the link to the video and article:



Czech and Spanish doctors learn Norwegian here in Poland

Stream of doctors from all of Europe to Norway after financial crisis

WARSAW ( Dagbladet ): – Where does it hurt?

– I have a pain in the pipes …? ?… the ears !

The Polish doctor Mohammed Kordia (34) sits in a classroom in Warsaw and stutters sentence after sentence in Norwegian. Norwegian teacher Oliwia Szymanska (30) asks, corrects and asks again.

Kordia has shown the interest for a physician job in Scandinavia through the recruitment and training company Paragona. To get such a job, he needs to get through three months of Norwegian language training in Poland. But to be allowed to start the training, he must show that he is able to learn Norwegian fast enough. Therefore he has been given a sheet of Norwegian phrases, that he should read up for Oliwia.

Mosjoen and Haugesund
Czech Jan Novotny (36) and Spanish Sofia Fernandez (33) sit in the next room. They came through the cracks and are almost done with the course in Poland. Now they are taught health law by attorney and health law expert Knut Erling Nyheim.

– You are going to work in Norway. Where to? – ask Nyheim .

– I’m going to Mosjoen – says Jan.

– I’m going to Haugesund – says Sofia.

Spain, Greece and Croatia
After the New Year they will work in Norway. They are two of the growing number of physicians who come from all over Europe to work in Norway . Paragona alone has sent 100 doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychiatrists to Norway over the past five years. Previously, they were mostly Poles. After the financial crisis, the applicants come from other parts of Europe.

– Before we worked only with Polish doctors. Today, we recruit from 16 EU countries and applicants from countries such as Greece, Spain, Czech Republic and Portugal. And Croatia, after they joined the EU, says Søren Vad, who is responsible for scheduling the courses.

Looking forward
Sofia Fernandez is a pathologist. In her home city, Madrid, she had only received only brief, temporary positions. No predictability. Not able to take out a mortgage.

– I wanted a better contract. And better pay – says Sofia.

She moves with her husband , who is interior designer. They were both in Haugesund when Sofia was at the interview.

– We are looking forward to it – she says.

Jan is gastroenterologist. He is looking forward too.

– I want to move to a country where there is not such great class contradictions. Where one is not seen strange just because of a higher education. And I want to work in a country with a slightly different health system. In the Czech Republic it is expected that all doctors work 70-80 hours a week – he said.

Dialect crash course
Søren Vad estimates that 60-70 percent of instruction is in Norwegian language, the rest in Norwegian medical terms and terminology. And health law. One of the most difficult is added to the last days of the course: Dialects.

– It is a dialect crash course. We begin with Skarre -r, says Søren Vad.

Paragona has sent health personnel to all the Norwegian health authorities. Most of them have ended up in Western and Northern Norway.

– Stavanger dialect is difficult to teach. It is difficult to explain to students that some may say “What is the clock ” and not ” what is the time”, says Norwegian teacher Magdalena Solarek (28).

– Many also suffer with words like as “what”, “why” , “how” and “where”.

Norwegian teachers in Poland have also learned that prepositions can be difficult for students.

– Many of the nurses said that they give medication “to” the butt , says Oliwia Szymanska.

Pia Tjelta movies
In addition to the intensive teaching the doctors Norwegian listen to music and watch Norwegian films.

– Movies with Pia Tjelta are good to teach them Stavangerske – says Solarek.

The first three months in Norway Jan and Sofia will work 80 percent and have 20 percent tuition. They will not work alone with patients. After three months in Norway, and about three months in Poland ahead, they should be able to work more independently.

– After 6-7 months they tend to be at a good level. They are doing more on their own. And they start talking dialects – says Solarek.

And what happens Mohammed Kordia, the man who said he had pain in the “pipes ?” Before he gets to the campus, he must go through several tests including psychological counseling, as all the other applicants. The company must make sure that everyone who is taken on is able to complete the course and work in the country they are going to.

– I would like to work in Norway or Sweden – he said.
(Translation by Paragona)

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