How to Become a Medical Doctor in Russia (9 Steps)

Russia is the largest country in the world, and the most populous one in Europe, bordering 16 other sovereign nations. After World War II, it emerged as a major superpower, and leading up to the 21st century was responsible for some of the most important technological and scientific discoveries in humanity. In today’s guide, we will go over the requirements and qualifications needed to become a medical doctor in Russia.

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1. Why Become a Doctor in Russia?

Today, Russia is a modern nation with an increasingly higher standard of living, a huge amount of natural resources, and one of the leaders in the world in many areas, including medicine. People across the world go to Russia for treatment of various diseases, and this reputation also helps the country to attract a number of foreign doctors. In addition, it pays well.

2. Russian requirements for becoming a doctor in Russia

Russian can be a very hard language to learn, particularly for non-Slavic speakers, as not only is the structure of the language vastly different than other popular languages, but the alphabet itself is also different as Russian uses the Cyrillic alphabet instead of the more popular Latin alphabet, which will be an added obstacle for most speakers. Pronunciation and sentence structure is also much different than what most people are used to. That being said, as is with anything else in life, with a longer period of dedication, Russian can be mastered, especially if you consistently converse with native speakers.

When it comes to becoming a doctor in Russia, you will obviously have to speak at least a little bit of Russian to converse with colleagues and patients, but English speaking doctors are also highly sought after for the private sector in Russia, for conversing with upper-middle-class foreign patients.

3. Study in Russian Medical Schools if possible

One of the biggest steps you can take in your journey to becoming a medical doctor in Russia is by studying medicine at a Russian university. This will not only prepare you for life and work in the country but will also be of tremendous help when it comes to learning the language. Russian universities are some of the best in the world, attracting a large number of foreign students, and programs relating to medicine are no exception. In fact, medicine is the most in-demand field for foreigners, with around 50,000 students, mainly from neighboring countries, Asia, and the Middle East.

The bachelor’s degrees at Medical universities in Russia are only awarded in nursing. If one wants to become a general practitioner, a specialist degree program is required, lasting for a period of around 6 years. Fur further specialization, residency is required which lasts an additional 2 to 4 years. There are programs available in both Russian and English.

4. Required Tests

In order to qualify for a medical license in Russia, you will need to first complete a few steps and fulfill a few requirements. For foreign doctors, there are additional steps that need to be taken, such as temporary registration with the Public Registry of medical professionals. The temporary registration is aimed at foreign doctors who wish to work or complete their postgraduate studies in Russia. There are quite a few documents that need to be provided, which can be seen via the link above. Among them is a certificate from the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science (a body in the Russian Federation which is able to legally recognize foreign qualifications on the territory of the Federation).

5. Residency

When it comes to residency, all graduates are required to complete training at a Russian hospital, and the length of the residency depends on the type of specialization. The surgical residency lasts for 3 years, while non-surgical lasts a year less. There are also a few residency programs available in English, which is ideal for foreign postgraduates.

6. Getting Medical License in Russia

In order to freely practice as a medical doctor in Russia, you will need to obtain a medical license, issued by the Ministry of Health. The process of obtaining the license is fairly straightforward and involves you providing the necessary documents to the governing body. You can check out the list of documents here (in Russian). The total process lasts from 1.5 to 3 months, depending on a few factors such as the number of applicants. Upon issue, the license lasts for a lifetime within the borders of the Russian Federation. However, in a few cases such as a change of address, or change of working location, and a few other similar scenarios, the license will have to be reissued.

7. Getting a Work Visa for Doctors

All foreign nationals who wish to work stay and work in Russia are quired to obtain a work permit as well as a work visa, regardless of profession. If the candidate in question has a starting salary of over 167.000 rubles (2.300 EUR) per month, he will be regarded as a Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS), which will make the visa process a lot easier. HQS workers also get permits and visas that last for 3 years, compared to the standard visa which lasts for 1 year. Most medical professionals, especially experienced ones will most likely fall under the HQS category.

You can apply for a visa at your local Russian consulate, where you will be required to provide all the necessary documentation, including your passport and medical degree. You will also need sponsorship from a Russian-based hospital, which means that you will need to find a job placement before applying for a visa or ever coming to Russia. For nationals of members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), none of these requirements apply, as they can freely move and start working as a medical dcotor in Russia with just their national passport.

8. Starting your own practice or finding hospitals to work in Russia

Finding a job at Russian public hospitals shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are staff shortages due to Russian doctors leaving the country because of low wages and poor working conditions. But, this is obviously not ideal for foreign doctors coming to Russia, either, so most of them look to find a placement at a private hospital, which offers far better wages and overall experience for workers. However, this also means that spots at these hospitals are very competitive, especially with the recent incentive of the Russian government to attract foreign doctors to the country, which we will talk about in the next segment.

To start your own practice in Russia, you will need to obtain a medical license for your practice. To get the license you will need to prove that you have the skills and knowledge, as well as that you possess the necessary equipment and qualified maintenance staff for it.

9. Procedure for foreign-trained doctors to become a doctor in Russia

Since 2018, foreign doctors can move and start working in Russia without a medical license. This was done by the Russian government to keep the large number of Russians who seek treatment abroad, to stay in the country. The effects of the plan are still unclear, as it is still very early to tell, but the fact is that any foreign-trade doctor can easily move and start working in a private institution in Russia, with very few obstacles. However, getting a job at some of these private hospitals will be next to impossible for recent graduates, so this will mostly affect already established and experienced foreign-trained doctors.


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