;   Medical Translation Insight: Europe to test language skills of migrating doctors - ForeignExchange Translations

Europe to test language skills of migrating doctorsPatient and employer complaints about foreign doctors who lack proficiency in a country's official language have prompted the European Economic Area (i.e., all 27 European Union member states, along with Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) to reconsider language requirements for migrating doctors.

CMAJ reports that new EU regulations are being proposed to simplify the process of recognizing the professional qualifications of physicians and promote mobility.

The language provisions would allow member states to test the language skills of migrating physicians to ensure that they can adequately communicate with patients. Each member state would have to appoint a national body to gauge if a physician has met the minimum training and language requirements. National authorities will also have to report regularly on "continuing education and training procedures" for doctors.

For more details, see the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications and Regulation on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System [PDF link]

The issue stems from the fact that existing rules are interpreted differently across Europe, according to an earlier CMAJ article:

Some regulators require a language assessment test post-registration (Italy). Some subject doctors to the scrutiny of a panel (Austria), or interviews conducted by the regulator (Cyprus), while others require that doctors demonstrate that they're able to discuss a video recording with a regulatory panel (Portugal).
Will the proposed kind of standardization improve patient safety and healthcare across Europe? That remains to be seen but language training providers are sure to see an uptick in business.

For a detailed proposal on your next clinical, regulatory, or marketing medical translation assignment, contact ForeignExchange Translations.


  1. cgtradmed said...
    It has to be done. It's an excellent idea. Communication between patients and physicians will be eased. But I think that they would also need some courses about the "cultural differences" between their country of origin and the host country. This is a particularly sensitive matter as far as the relationship between women and doctors is concerned. It sometimes leads to paradoxical and nearly surrealistic situations where a "normal" modern and educated woman may realize that the more embarrassed of the two is the male doctor who stands in front of her. It may even result in a wrong diagnosis, insufficient care, etc.
    Because of the dramatic shortage of younger physicians and the huge number of "baby-boomer" doctors who are going to retire at the national level in most Western / Northern European countries, immigrating MDs and specialists will obviously be more and more necessary, and both the linguistic and cultural issues deserve to be addressed seriously and urgently.
    Suji said...
    I think it is really necessary to conduct language skills tests in order to improve patient safety. Communication is vital in every health care delivery system.
    thetranslationpeople said...
    I think that this is very important simply because doctors provide such a vital role to everyone, that if they could not speak and understand their patients then they could not provide the best service possible.

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