Just two years ago, Turnov Medical School (STŘEDNÍ ZDRAVOTNICKÁ ŠKOLA, Turnov) hosted a special event. It brought together all the international students who had graduated from the portals of the prestigious medical school over the years. Between 1980 to 1994, the campus proudly hosted over 130 students from countries like Syria, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Laos and Ethiopia. But as times changed, this number dropped and dried up to nil.
Now, after a long wait of almost two decades, international students have returned to Turnov. In a special collaboration with Czech College, a new one-year program that helps international medical professionals, nurses, in particular integrate with the European medical system and Czech medical environment was rolled out. The main reason for this initiative was the widespread lack of experienced medical staff in the Czech healthcare system, says Lenka Novakova, director of the medical school in Turnov. Ms. Novakova contacted Mr. John Xavier, Director of Czech College and created the Nurses Adaptation Program to enable foreign educated nurses to practice in the Czech healthcare system.The first students of the program–three from India and one from Malaysia–arrived in Turnov on Monday, April 15, 2017.
Only students who hold university degrees from their home countries are eligible to apply for this integration programme. The one-year program is mainly focused on learning Czech and understanding the culture. The new entrants seem to have picked up some basic conversational skills already. After their rigorous coursework till February, they will be taking an exam. During the winter, the students will also have specialized training in medical subjects as well. In addition to that, the students will start a 40-day internship in a medical facility here in February, after which they will be fully ready to start their career as a nurse in the Czech Republic.
“We refer to them as students, however, their age ranges from 26 to 40 years. They say that in countries like India, their work is hugely undervalued,” says Novakova. “In some cases, they had to take help from their families to even pay for their travel to the Czech Republic and to be able to afford the tuition fee and living expenses here. Their Bachelors and/or Masters degrees are recognized in the Czech Republic. But they have to be familiar with the Czech language, the medical environment here and European standards in general.
The journey of their integration is only beginning. But, according to their local tutor Ivana Pravdova, all the students are earnestly trying their best to blend in and are working extra hard even after study hours by making conversations with their Czech colleagues. They also had a guided tour around Turnov and were not shy to greet the people they met with the first words they learned in Czech, “Dobry Den (good day)”. They are also trying out the local cuisine and getting used to the flavors of Czech food.
We hope that this would be a successful first step in bridging the gap in the Czech medical system and also giving an opportunity to qualified international students to get gainful employment.