How to Become a Medical Doctor in China (6 Steps)

China trains a massive number of medical students every year, without them all becoming doctors afterwards. For various reasons, the medical profession has been less popular in recent years, but this doesn’t mean there is no continued demand for doctors across the country. In fact, foreign doctors can now find more roles than ever before.

Let’s have a look at what it takes to become a medical doctor in China and how foreign-trained doctors can also access the job market.

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1. Chinese Language Requirements

If you want to study or work in China, you will need to speak Mandarin Chinese. This is essential for coming to pursue a medical degree or practicing as a doctor in China.

Moreover, living and working in China without knowledge of the language is only really possible as an international employee in big cities. For jobs in hospitals, interacting with people on a regular basis, Chinese fluency is essential.

2. If possible, study in Chinese medical schools

It is easier and quicker to qualify as a doctor in China if you study medicine in China. Chinese qualification has been made possible for foreign students since 2011, which means that you can enroll to study medicine there full time even if you are not a Chinese citizen.

The medical schools in China typically take five years in total, followed by a residency period of 2-3 years (depending on your chosen specialty area).

3. Required tests and residency

Once you have graduated from medical school and finished your residency training, all medical students have to pass the National Medical Licensing Examination in order to begin work as doctors. If successful, you then obtain approval from the Ministry of Health to practice medicine as a profession – effectively, your medical license.

4. Being Licensed in China

In China, the medical licensing process is run by the Ministry of Health. You will have to pass the National Medical Licensing Examination, either at the end of your studies or as an incoming foreign trained doctor, to certify your ability to practice as a doctor. Once this is done, the Ministry of Health will allow you to work in Chinese hospitals.

5. Finding Jobs in China

In order to work as a non-Chinese medical doctor in China, you need to go through the recognition process for your degree, as well as obtain a visa issued by the Chinese Exit and Entry Administration Department. Effectively, the process for getting employment includes obtention of this work visa and more information on doing so can be found here.

In order to find work as a doctor in China, foreign trained doctors with their practicing certificate have to go through a prescriptive process which starts with an application for registration in the Health Administrative Department in charge of the hospital or medical center they are planning to work in. A number of documents must be submitted at this stage, including a work visa, the practicing certificate, as well as their valid foreign medical license.

Once registered successfully, doctors can start working in the hospital where employment was offered initially.

6. Procedure for foreign-trained doctors to become a doctor in China

If you have completed your medical studies outside of China and are already recognized as a doctor in your country of origin, you will need to obtain a “Foreign physician practicing certificate” to become a doctor in China. This is granted after a formal exam and certification, granted by the Ministry of Health. You’ll need to apply for, and take, the National Medical Licensing Examination just like any Chinese trained doctor would do.

If you have not started work as a doctor for two years after being given the practicing certificate, then it expires and you will be required to re-sit the exam.


I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the China Scholarships Page!