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US Physicians Practicing in New Zealand

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.

Click here to read my post on getting your medical license in Spain.


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 to learn about an alternative for ABMS certification.

Click here for New Zealand’s foreign doctor resources.

10 replies on “US Physicians Practicing in New Zealand”

Yea, had a friend who took her whole family there. She did urgent care overnight and her husband did the babysitting – he is in IT and took a 1 year sabbatical. She really enjoyed the country. But I think one downside is that you are stuck working full-time which isn’t ideal so after the 3 months stint, she was done with NZ.

is there any chance for American trained Physical medicine and rehabilitation physician to work in New Zealand.
I am very interested in practicing there

On occasion they have a need for specialists. But usually it’s the primary care and urgent care specialties they are looking for. I would reach out to a recruiter and tell them you’re interested. They’ll reach out to the hospitals and see if any are interested – I’m sure you can negotiate something.

Thank you for writing this article! I’ve struggled finding information on DOs practicing in New Zealand. My school is on the website you linked to, but do you know whether the US license suffices for DOs as well as MDs? Would I need to be board certified by an MD specific program or with the merger perhaps this is not a distinction that will become less of an issue in the next 5 or so years.

I was just referring generally to DOs practicing in NZ since osteopaths are a different license there altogether with much limited scope of practice, I didn’t know about the IHS residency alternatives, thank you for bringing that to my attention!

How many days in the previous 12 months at the time of your application do you have to be working in America

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