One year since the beginning of the war, Ukrainian doctors pursue careers in the Czech Republiс
Nadia, gynaecologist from Kyiv, works to become fully certified doctor in the Czech Republic to help both refugee and Czech community.
Since the escalation of the war in Ukraine in February 2022, more than 450,000 people – including doctors, nurses, and other health professionals – have fled their homes and settled in the Czech Republic. Among them is Nadia Žerebak, a gynaecologist, who used to work in the Kyiv maternity hospital.
She arrived the Czech capital Prague in March last year and immediately started looking for a job in the health sector.
"I managed to start working in Čáslav Hospital, they were looking for doctors and gynaecologists, so I applied, went for an interview and got a job as an assistant. I helped examining up to 12 patients a day. In the inpatient ward of the hospital, I assisted with up to 4 surgeries on the days they were performed, and helped in the labour ward. Most of the patients I took care of were women from Ukraine. Some of the patients who knew me from Kyiv and found themselves in the Czech Republic even came to the maternity hospital in Čáslav, just to make sure I would be the one taking care of them," Nadia said.
Nadia’s ultimate goal was to work as a gynaecologist, but she needed to take a series of exams – all in the Czech language – and obtain a permit from the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health to practice medicine in the country.
Although Nadia did not speak Czech, she decided to take a course through the Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education (IPVZ), organized with the support of UNICEF.
"After a short language course at the employment office and the notification of my diploma, I started looking for ways to further improve my Czech while learning medical terminology. I found out about the courses organised by IPVZ on the Telegram app and immediately signed up," Nadia said.
IPVZ launched Czech language courses aimed at healthcare workers from Ukraine in the spring of 2022, and these were later technically and financially supported by UNICEF. By Autumn, the first batch of doctors passed the written part of the exams.
"I have taken several online and face-to-face courses over six months. We learned how to record medical history and write medical reports in Czech, how to name the organs and systems of the human body. We also practiced grammar with examples and texts on the topic of healthcare. The information we gained during the course was very important to prepare us for the certification exams and work in healthcare institutions in the Czech Republic. The webcasts are also useful: in the videos, the experts explain the specifics of health insurance and health legislation, and they were also quite useful for practising Czech," Nadia said.
Nadia is now preparing for the final exams and a career as a fully qualified doctor in the Czech Republic.
"I am so grateful to the lecturers for teaching me how to write a professional CV, successfully pass an interview in a hospital, communicate with colleagues and patients and cooperate with them. I have been very lucky to have such amazing people around me, I have great relationships with my colleagues, they have all been very helpful, supportive and tried their best to advise me. The chief medical officer was brilliant, she helped me to get my practical internship," Nadia explained.
In February this year, Nadia began her six-month internship at a hospital in Havlíčkův Brod. She will then take her last exams, after which she would like to obtain a specialised qualification and pursue both medical and scientific activities in the Czech Republic.
"Without the support of IPVZ and UNICEF, my journey would have been even more difficult. I am grateful for their help, support and professionalism," Nadia concluded.
"Passing the exam is not easy, but what motivates me is the idea that even in this difficult situation I will be able to work as a qualified doctor and help those in need."