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Licensing procedures and registration of medical doctors in the European Union.

Kovacs E, Schmidt AE, Szocska G, Busse R, McKee M, Legido-Quigley H
Clinical Medicine 14(3): 229-238




The current proposals to update the European Union (EU) directive on professional qualifications will have potentially important implications for health professions. Yet those discussing it will struggle to find basic information on key issues such as licensing and registration of physicians in different countries. A survey was conducted among national experts in 14 EU member states, supplemented by literature and independent expert review. The questionnaire covered five components of licensing and registration: (1) definitions, (2) regulatory basis, (3) governance, (4) the process of registration and (5) flow and quantity of applications. We identify seven areas of concern: (1) the meaning of terminology, which is inconsistent; (2) the role of language assessments and the responsibility for them; (3) whether approval to practise should be lifelong or time limited, subject to periodic assessment; (4) the need for improved systems to identify those deemed no longer fit to practise in one member state; (5) the complexity of processes for graduates from non-EU/European Economic Area (EAA) countries; (6) public access to registers; and (7) transparency of systems of governance. The systems of licensing and registration of doctors in Europe have developed within specific national contexts and vary widely. This creates inevitable problems in the context of free movement of professionals and increasing mobility.

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