I have never done any locum tenens work in another country because I didn’t like having a middleman dictate my contract, such as a locum tenens agency. A popular locum tenens opportunity for US physicians is practicing in New Zealand or Australia.
The reason I write posts like this is because I dislike the shady nature of medicine. I don’t like having a middleman dictate my practice standards. Practicing overseas isn’t a privilege, it’s your right – you earned it by working your ass off and getting credentialed.
If you want to go practice in Spain or New Zealand, you should have all the information at your fingertips and shouldn’t need some organization doing it on your behalf who will take a 30% cut of your earnings. I’m not knocking those organizations, but they are banking on your lack of knowledge and they have tried to monopolize the credentialing process by finding backdoors into the national medical boards.
International locum tenens
Many international locum tenens companies such as Global Medical Staffing have inside connections and can fast track your application and get past most red tape. But trust me, you can do the same without these middlepeople.
As a US physician, you can practice medicine in a lot of countries but in most you would need to obtain a full medical license, especially if you are planning to practice there long-term\\\\\\. For locum tenens work, however, you can get by on a provisional license which has some slight limitation but it’s good enough to practice medicine.
Just like a US state can offer another state-licensed physician a restricted per diem license, countries which have physician shortages can allow US physicians to work in their country for a period of time (usually up to 12 months) in specific high-demand locations.
Locum tenens medical license in New Zealand
To get your medical license in New Zealand for locum tenens work, head over to the Medical Council of New Zealand. You will find a lot of helpful information there which is made even easier because everything is in English.
To figure out which forms and fees you are responsible for you can refer to their checklist site.
One way to make it easier on yourself is also to reach out to certain medical groups overseas and see if they will help you with the application process. It’s common practice for the Medical Council to request that you have a sponsoring medical group before they issue you a locum tenens license.
If the public hospitals aren’t a good option, you can look for private medical groups and see if someone there can sponsor you.
Timeline for New Zealand medical license
The NZ Medical Council website gives you a general overview of the various steps involved and estimates that it will take 20 days for you to obtain your medical license.
On average I have heard that it takes 1-2 months. If you are from a medical school which isn’t recognized or you have anything negative on your record, expect there to be delays.
Licensing criteria checklist
The Medical Council offers a ‘fitness for registration‘ list which helps you determine if you will encounter any hiccups during the registration process.
They have individuals assigned to performing interviews if necessary, which apparently is done if anything needs to be resolved. This is referred to as the ‘registration interview’.
To see if your medical school education qualifies, you can do a search for accepted medical schools on this website.
Board certification reciprocity
The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is under the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a shady and money-hungry organization whose monopoly is getting attacked heavily in the recent years.
The ABFM has a reciprocity agreement with a few other national medical boards, such as Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
This reciprocity might sound very sexy but it don’t mean shit. All that reciprocity gives you is the ability to sit for the family medicine board certification exam and you would still have to meet all the other qualifications.
And if you’re only planning on working in the other country for a few months or up to a year, you won’t need to get board certified there, regardless of your specialty.
Click here for New Zealand’s foreign doctor resources.