Foreign Physicians Recruited to Fill Empty Positions in Akureyri Hospital Skip to content

Foreign Physicians Recruited to Fill Empty Positions in Akureyri Hospital

Icelandic healthcare clinics have begun to look for foreign physicians as Icelandic physicians are not returning to Iceland after completing their specialist education. Indian doctors have been hired by the hospital in Akureyri and more are expected to come.

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From Akureyri. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The language is the main problem

“We have advertised for physicians and specialists overseas and been able to recruit qualified individuals in most cases. However, not all positions have been filled,” Gróa Björk Jóhannesdóttir, a stand-in director at Akureyri hospital, told Morgunbladid. She said the hospital would consider hiring more foreign specialists.

Gróa continued to say that “it’s probably been about 30 to 35 years since the first Indian came to practice medicine here and in the last 5 to 6 years more physicians have come to Akureyri.”

Indian doctors are well educated and they fill the necessary positions the hospital has not been able to fill with Icelandic specialists. The hospital would prefer to hire Icelandic-speaking physicians whenever possible.

In recent editions, Morgunbladid has reported on the lack of physicians in Icelandic hospitals and clinics and the problems arising from fewer and fewer Icelandic doctors returning to Iceland following their specialist education. Loss of local specialists is also a growing problem.

In the weekend edition of Morgunbladid, an unnamed source told the reporter how the emergency room in Fossvogur at Landspítali – University Hospital is often running at high pressure levels and fears of potential medical mistakes are an increased risk.

Gudbjartur Hannesson, Minister of Welfare, told Morgunbladid it is a common problem in the Nordic countries to recruit native physicians after specialist training overseas.

“I’ve been meeting with Ministers of Health in the Nordic countries and the same problem is to be found everywhere. In Denmark, physicians from the Asian continent are being recruited in large numbers.”

Geir Gunnlaugsson, Medical Director of Health, emphasises the importance of making sure all doctors recruited from overseas carry the appropriate licencing. The Directorate of Health evaluates each case on its own merits.

Following the evaluation, “it is up to the hospital or the clinic to decide whether the lack of fluency in Icelandic is acceptable or not.”

Geir goes on to say European doctors do not struggle to find employment within the European Economic Community (EEC); quite a few Polish doctors practice medicine in Iceland.

Gudbjartur Hannesson believes the expansion of the University Hospital –Landspítali will help to improve the situation, but in his opinion the Environmental Committee stands in the way of further development.

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