Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus


BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 28 February 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:s83
  1. Rhona MacDonald, editor of Career Focus
  1. careerfocus{at} tel: + 44 (0)20 7387 4499

In nine weeks the 10 accession states will join the European Union. With this looming deadline it is rather worrying that no one seems to know exactly what will happen when doctors from these states want to work in the United Kingdom. What we do know is that they will have to register with the General Medical Council, that language testing will not be a prerequisite to registration, and that there is likely to be a lot of them.

The GMC is waiting for information about the standard of medical training and confirmation about what represents a primary medical qualification under European legislation for each country before it can make an informed decision about whether registration will be automatic or based on further evidence the experience of each doctor (p 89).

I don't know about you, but I am getting fed up with the UK newspapers giving the impression that we will be over-run by Barbarians who can't speak English. So it is refreshing to hear what Edwin Borman, chairman of the BMA's international committee, has to say: “As a trade union [the BMA] we would hope to welcome them as members and to give them the support that they need.”

However, it looks as though there will be very few doctors to support the healthcare systems in the accession states after 1 May as work flow is unlikely to go in both directions. We will be featuring more about this soon, but in the meantime Sallie Nicholas, head of the BMA's international department, says: “Ultimately, the solution lies in creating working conditions that will encourage doctors to stay in the countries concerned.”

Staying in a single place is not an option for a ship's doctor. Instead, you are likely to come into contact with people from at least 60 nations as you sail glamorously around the world (p 83).

Life as a forensic anthropologist also involves travelling the globe (p 88) but it sounds shockingly harrowing. How would you cope if your job involved analysing decomposing and chewed “human jigsaws”?

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