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V. Ryndine—I Found God in Africa - Ch 4: Taking Exams at the Medical Council of the South Africa

V. D. Ryndine
I found God in Africa:
Letters of a Russian Bush Surgeon




Illustrated by Evgeniy Perelygin

adaptation and editorial work

by Irene Connelly


Part 1 Chapter Titles as of 27 Nov 2018

CHAPTER 1: Morning Prayers - Pblished in my blog on 06.12.2018

CHAPTER 2: A Journey Across the South of Africa With Dr. Ryndine -Pblished in my blog on 06.12.2018

CHAPTER 3: Swaziland and Good Fortune - Pblished in my blog on 14.12.2018

CHAPTER 4: Taking Exams at the Medical Council of the South African Republic / Surviving Abroad - - Pblished in my blog on 14.12.2018

I could list all the significant questions from the South African exam card on one page, but that would be boring. Dr. Oleg Blinnikov posed more general questions: How do our colleagues live and work abroad? How does the educational system work? How do you pass the exams and find a job abroad? He also asked for some stories about my experiences surviving abroad. This is all more interesting for me to remember, and probably more interesting for you to read.

The Medical Council of the South African Republic has an arrangement for mutual recognition of medical diplomas from the medical faculties and postgraduate training programs of Belgium and Ireland. The holders of these diplomas can be easily registered at the Medical Council of South Africa under the condition that they present employment visas.

There may be a delay in receiving these visas, which must be signed by the head of the province medical service (the equivalent in Russia is the head of the regional health department) and by the immigration authorities; the latter require proof that the employer failed to find a local candidate for the position offered to the foreigner.

I doubt anyone has successfully entered the country with an application stating “I would like to set up a private practice.” They say that there is a strong lobby in every government agency which advocates for the interests of private doctors and therefore prevents foreign medical professionals who have full registration with the Medical Council, and and therefore the right to go into private practice, from penetrating the South African domestic medical market. I have never personally seen the representatives of such a lobby and haven’t the slightest idea what they look like. Indeed, you can hardly read about it anywhere, at least not explicitly. You won’t hear any calls to restrict the influx of foreign medical professionals, either. But there are abundant publications which serve as examples, bearing witness to foreign doctors’ poor training and implying the need to maintain the country’s high standard of domestic medicine.


The lobby of private medicine is also supported by the government representatives of the majority: “It’s true, we have a shortage of doctors. But we can’t invite foreign medical professionals for the positions at all levels—they tend to have poor qualifications.” Using such statements, those affiliated with people in power attempt to justify the majority’s failure to keep its election promise to provide the underprivileged with free, high-quality medical care.

The broken promise is not about the poor quality of foreign doctors’ training, as this can be handled by introducing approbatory contracts for a period of six months. It’s about the budgetary deficit which made it impossible to implement the changes and deliver on the promises. Also, they were taking precautions to save the jobs for their own medical professionals still in training, which seems quite logical.

Not long ago, before the end of white majority rule and then during the first few years after the rise of the African National Congress (ANC) headed by Nelson Mandela, a significant number of white doctors fled the country. Decision-makers in the government decided to enlarge the ranks of domestic medical professionals using a “temporary permission” to register doctors with foreign diplomas. This benefited black citizens of the South African Republic who had been studying medicine in Eastern Europe and Cuba during the apartheid era.

It’s also worth mentioning a temporary migration system relaxation instituted for white non-citizens: In the last few years of their rule the South African Dutch were desperately trying to handle an influx of white immigrants. Among this group, and taking advantage of the “temporary permission,” were many doctors from Eastern Europe who had effortlessly entered the country and settled in. They were among the lucky ones, benefiting from the temporary loophole created in the regulations of the Medical Council for black doctors and fighters against apartheid. There were Yugoslavs, Poles, and Romanians, but hardly any lucky Russians—Russians are slow to saddle up!

But the loophole was soon eliminated, and the old regime came back into effect: Those willing to work as doctors in South Africa and those already working had the right to obtain a “limited registration” by passing an exam.

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