The Spanish education system assumes early commitment to a medical career, as you need to decide and begin studying early to be admitted into the school of your choice. However, becoming a medical doctor in Spain is the path to a highly respected career. Doctors are among the most revered professionals in the country and you will hold a certain prestige for being a qualified MD.
At the same time, this is also probably the most competitive job in Spain. It is extremely competitive to get into medical school in the first place, and afterwards competition for securing the best residencies or doing well within your hospital is also very tough. There is a rumored rivalry between all doctors, each wanting to be known as the best expert in their respective fields. However, this is often worth it as the end result is a well-paid and respected job. In this article, we will be going through on how to become a doctor in Spain.
1. Spanish language requirements for doctors
Whether you’re planning to become a doctor in Spain or are just considering doing a medical degree there and returning to your country of origin, you will have to be fluent in Spanish in order to attend full-time courses for the MD degree. Most large universities offer some English-language courses, but these are exclusively aimed at exchange students or one-off programs.
All medical schools require you to be fluent in Spanish and this will also be needed in order to practice medicine once you have your license.
2. Try to study in Spanish medical schools
By studying medicine in Spain, you will become accustomed with the system and its requirements and have a more obvious path towards getting your license and becoming a doctor in Spain. However, it’s worth noting that the admission process is extremely competitive, as is the whole course of medical school.
In order to get into medical school, you will need to pass a national-level admissions exam taken in the spring before you wish to enroll. Your results determine what school you can go to, and you will likely need to submit an online application to the university of your choice. Medical school courses are six years long and at the end, you will take an exit exam called the MIR (Medico Interno Residente) test, which will determine your admission into residency programs.
Although graduating from the medical school and passing the MIR test means you can be called a doctor, you won’t be able to practice fully until you complete the residency program as well.
3. Pass the required tests and residency
Graduation from the medical school in Spain means you need to have also passed your gateway into residency, the MIR test. Once this is done and you’ve been admitted into the program of your choice, you will go through 4-5 years as a resident (depending on the specialization you have chosen).
Anyone who has successfully completed medical studies can take the MIR in order to apply for residency. There are quotas set at 4% for non-EU students, but European citizens are bundled in with the national students i.e. Spanish nationals.
It is at the end of your residency program that you can apply for your medical license, which will enable you to work as a doctor in Spain.
4. Apply for Medical License
The first step towards obtaining a medical license is to register with the College of Physicians of the province you live in (this is also the first step as a foreign trained doctor coming to work in Spain). Each province has its own guidelines and rules to follow in your registration for a medical license, so you need to study the ones which apply to where you intend to live and work.
In order to be given a medical license, you need to have graduated from medical school, be recognized as a doctor by the Ministry of Health of Spain (this is automatic if you’ve completed your residency in Spain and have a Spanish degree), be fluent in Spanish, and provide proof of registration with your relevant College of Physicians as well as proof of residence in the province in which you are applying to get your license.
To obtain a medical license if you haven’t studied and done your residency in Spain, you’ll need to first ensure that your medical degree is recognized in Spain. If you are a EU citizen, your degree will be recognized automatically, but non-EU studies need to go through a validation process with the Ministry of Education. Once your degree has been recognized, you’ll follow the same steps as if you had obtained your degree in Spain, but you’ll also need to provide work and residence permits in Spain (if this is required based on your nationality).
A non-EU trained specialist doctor also needs to pass an exam to be able to become a doctor in Spain. This evaluates theoretical, clinical and diagnostic skills and there is also a practical test with scenarios you will need to pass.
5. Getting a work visa to work as a doctor in Spain
You won’t need to apply for a work visa if you are a citizen of a EU or EEA country or from Switzerland. In order to work as a doctor in Spain, you’ll just need to go through the process to obtain your license.
If you are a non-EU citizen, you will need to get a highly skilled work visa. You can find out more about the types of visas and process to apply for them here.
6. How foreign-trained doctors become a doctor in Spain
Foreign trained doctors whose degree is from a EU/EEA country or Switzerland will find that their diploma is recognized automatically in Spain, so all that remains to do if you are in this category is to register with the College of Physicians and look for places to work.
However, if your degree is from outside the EU/EEA/ Switzerland, you’ll need to get this recognized through a formal process by the Ministry of Education. You will also need to provide formal proof of your Spanish language proficiency, proof of residency / work permit, and to undertake an exam if you are looking to work as a specialist. In some cases, you may be required to take the residency exam to prove your fitness to work as a doctor (even if you have a medical degree already). Once you’ve gone through all these steps, you can then apply for a medical license.
I hope that this article on how to become a doctor in Spain was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Medical School Category!