Many American-trained physicians have asked us how they can live abroad and practice medicine in English. After reviewing the Ultimate Guide Series created by our members, here is a list of 11 places where you can practice clinical medicine, in English. Some are obvious choices while others may surprise you!
Canada is a fantastic option for those wanting to practice medicine abroad without needing to overcome a language barrier. You will first want to choose the province where you want to live and then look at the medical registration criteria, as the registration criteria and process is province specific. Get started with our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Canada and our province-specific guides for Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia.
The only exception is Québec, where you are required to be fluent in French and will need to pass a French language exam. This is required even for native French speakers!
2. United Kingdom
One of the biggest differences between the US and the UK is that the UK has a National Health Service (NHS), and it takes time to learn how to navigate the NHS. The NHS has a standard salary based on the years of service within the NHS and it is prohibited, and an NHS physician can only work in a private practice outside of the hours they committed to the NHS. It can take a while to attain medical registration, so make sure to plan ahead. Get started with our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in the United Kingdom.
3. New Zealand
New Zealand remains a very popular destination for US-trained physicians. New Zealand, like many places in the world, has a large shortage of doctors, and heavily recruits foreign doctors. Depending on your specialty, most people will want to allot 6+ months to apply for medical registration and to search for a job. Get started with our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in New Zealand.
The clinical care and work culture in Australia is similar to that in the US though Australians have a more “work to live” attitude where they enjoy taking holidays and are encouraged to take holidays. Patients often call their doctors by their first name and doctors rarely wear white coats – Australia prides itself in being a more egalitarian and less hierarchical society. Get started with our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Australia.
Ireland, like many other countries, has a large physician shortage. Consider working with a locums agency to first get a flavour of practicing medicine in Ireland before committing to a permanent move. Get started by watching our chat with Dr. Kathleen McCann.
Singapore – a city-state island, floating between Malaysia and Indonesia –hosts a large expatriate population and is a very safe place to live. English is the language of medical communication though a significant portion of patients speak Mandarin or Malay. The rounding culture is similar to that in the US. Hierarchy is an integral part of the work culture, hence promotion is based on the years of experience, and your supervisor will have the final say. Get started with our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Singapore.
Typically, foreign-trained physicians will be most welcomed by clinics/hospitals serving an expat community or those locals with private insurance. If you are working in one of the major medical chains which caters to the international and ex-pat community you do not have to be fluent in Mandarin, but should be fluent in English. These medical chains typically have English-Mandarin translators available for Mandarin speaking patients. Get started with our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in China.
8. United Arab Emirates
The UAE has many opportunities for international healthcare providers. Medical care is provided and communicated in English, and Americans physicians and their training are highly valued. Obtaining a medical license in the UAE is contingent on a job offer. Get started with our Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in the United Arab Emirates.
9. South Africa
Although South Africa boasts many different official languages, medical communication, in general, is conducted in English. As of March 2022, physicians were removed from the “critical skills” visa list, so are no longer entitled to an automatic work permit. This makes it extremely difficult for someone to work in South Africa unless they are eligible for a work visa for some other reason, such as through marriage or through a research permit.
10. Other Options
For those wanting to provide in-person clinical care while living abroad, explore other options such as working in the US territories (US Virgin Islands, Guam, or Saipan), or practicing on a US military base such as in Landstuhl, Germany or Okinawa, Japan, or practicing as a Regional Medical Officer through the US State Department.
Telemedicine offers one additional path to live abroad while practicing medicine in English, in the US. Check out our crowd-sourced list of telemedicine companies that allow you to work from abroad, browse our job board, or consider creating your own private practice, such as a telepsychiatry private practice, which will give you more control and flexibility. Get started with our Telemedicine Series.
Choosing a country or an opportunity where clinical practice and medical communication is conducted in English makes it easier to transition to living and practicing medicine abroad. Even without a language barrier, the process of medical registration, finding a job, relocation, and navigating a new healthcare system will require resilience, or at least the ability to reframe frustrations into mini-adventures!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process of medical registration, relocation, or starting your own telemedicine private practice, and you’re ready to move abroad, come work with us! Sign up for our Guidance Service. We are here to help!
Dr. Ashwini Bapat is a palliative care physician, Founder and CEO of EpioneMD, which provides virtual advanced care planning and serious illness coaching to individuals and telepalliative care consultation to healthcare organizations. She resides in Portugal.