Today, our interlocutor is Ukrainian doctor Oksana Tykhoniuk, who has already begun her journey toward obtaining highly skilled employment in Switzerland in her field of expertise. Through her example, we aim to motivate other Ukrainians to be courageous. Currently, the Swiss job market offers opportunities for those who want and can work. The important thing is for everyone to understand that anything is possible, and action is required.
"In Switzerland, I received decent financial support," says Oksana Tykhoniuk. "That's good, of course, but you sit idle for six months, and I'm not used to living like that. I am a very active person. In Ukraine, before the war, I worked in a state clinic, a maternity hospital at the women's consultation, and a private practice. In addition, I had additional appointments as a cosmetologist. I'm not accustomed to just existing; I need to take action and have a job," emphasizes Oksana.
After a few weeks of war, she, like everyone else, realizes that it will be a long-lasting situation. Therefore, it is necessary to move forward. She started by learning the languages spoken in Switzerland - English, Italian, and German. If you plan to find qualified work, you need to do it as quickly as possible.
In parallel with my studies, Oksana started monitoring job offers in the labor market.
All roads lead to MEBEKO.
To resolve the issue of legalizing my professional activity and confirming my specialist diploma, my friend Bernard, who works as an ophthalmologist here in Switzerland, and an organization that deals with Ukrainian matters in the canton of Ticino, "Amicizia dei popoli" (Association of Friendship of Nations), assisted me, "Oksana explains. As it turned out later, this is an extremely complex process. I went through MEBEKO (Medical Professions Commission, which makes decisions regarding the recognition of foreign diplomas - ed.). It serves as a crucial reference point for all doctors. That is, a doctor who did not graduate from a medical university in Switzerland and is not a citizen, before starting work in the country, sends their data and diploma to this organization, which then determines whether they can proceed or not. I had my diploma translated and sent it to MEBEKO. I received a positive response confirming that I am eligible as a doctor for future work in Switzerland. Therefore, at present, I have confirmed my medical diploma and registered it with this structure," Oksana emphasizes.
What to Consider
Certain obstacles increase the challenges for Ukrainians on their path to obtaining legally qualified work in Switzerland. Like the majority of countries worldwide, Switzerland prioritizes the employment of its citizens before considering other candidates. The procedure for diploma recognition is much easier for degrees from European Union (EU) countries. So, if you graduated from a medical university in the EU or worked in EU member states, you only need to translate your diploma and find a job where you will be hired. However, if you are from Ukraine, significantly more steps are involved. Currently, this is logical because the education system in Ukrainian medical universities is different from that in Switzerland and the EU. The subjects are different, and the structure of healthcare professionals and medical institutions is entirely distinct.
According to Oksana Tykhoniuk, the main difficulty in validating a specialist diploma in Switzerland lies in the fact that all the required documents must be original. However, if you have them, you need to bring them to the embassy in Bern. There, they will be translated and certified as originals. Another important point is that if you want to obtain a highly qualified job, you need a high level of proficiency in the languages spoken in Switzerland. For example, to work as a doctor, at least a B2 level of Italian is required. Once all the necessary documents are gathered, a motivational letter stating why you want to work as a doctor in Switzerland is added and sent to the aforementioned organization, MEBEKO.
Oksana waited for her response for a month, but it is not always a positive outcome. Doctors can also receive refusals for diploma validation. Most rejections are due to missing documents or errors in the required paperwork. However, one should not lose hope, as there is an opportunity to resubmit the documents. The commission will send a letter listing all the questions and reasons why they believe the person cannot be registered at the moment. You have a certain period, up to three months, to correct all the mistakes and send your documents again to the organization.
By the way, a crucial point is that your documents must be registered by Swiss lawyers listed on the MEBEKO website. It is important to use the services of trusted lawyers who collaborate with the organization.
Qualified employment - the path to full integration in Switzerland
As of now, Oksana has not yet validated her professional qualification in Switzerland. Currently, she works as a cosmetologist and a physician's assistant, but not as a gynecologist. In two weeks, she will have an interview for the validation of her gynecology diploma.
Further employment matters are resolved at the cantonal level. Due to a large influx of refugees to Switzerland, there is a shortage of doctors. Given this situation, there is a possibility that Oksana may work as a physician's assistant in gynecology without taking the Italian language exam, initially only with the Ukrainian population. However, this would already be a significant step forward.
If the canton approves such a decision, after 3-4 years of practice as a physician's assistant, an individual gains the right to take the examination to validate their professional diploma in Switzerland.
According to Oksana Tykhoniuk, the most important thing at the moment is that even working as a physician's assistant, she will be content because she will receive a decent salary. This enables her to independently cover rent, and insurance, and forgo social assistance. Personally, this step is crucial for her as it represents significant experience and integration into Swiss life.
"I believe that our nation is very hardworking, and there are no limits for our people to achieve something. For example, in Ukraine, I could start my consultations at 8:00 a.m. and finish at 7:00 p.m., and then I could do household chores, and everything was fine. But I understand that to achieve my goals here in Switzerland, I am ready to work day and night, to reach my objectives," emphasized Oksana.
Family - a 15-year-old son, Yegor, and a 20-year-old daughter, Polina. Before the war, she lived in Odessa. She graduated from Kyiv Bogomolets National Medical University with a specialization in medicine and has 20 years of experience as a physician.
The war caught up with Oksana and her children while they were on vacation abroad. She found temporary shelter in Switzerland through acquaintances who provided accommodation. Realizing that she cannot return to Ukraine at the moment, she is taking practical steps towards her integration into the socio-economic life of Switzerland. Currently, she is trying to obtain legal employment in her primary field of expertise as an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Documents and steps required by MEBEKO:
- Copy of passport + Permit S
- Copy of diploma + diploma additions
- Initial internship certificate
- All documents notarized (contact: Mr. Fabio Soldati Via Pretorio 7, 6900 Lugano 091 911 62 62, https://g.co/kgs/LPV6oW)
- All documents are officially translated into the language of the country (Italian, German, French) by a certified translator and notarized
- CV in English or the language of Switzerland
- Motivation letter in English
- Language proficiency at the B2 level
- Send all documents by mail to MEBEKO
- MEBEKO responds, confirming that all documents are in order, and provides a payment invoice of 390 francs for the initial document review.
- Total payment ranges from 800 to 1200 francs.
- After the recognition of the diploma, a license or the opportunity to work under supervision is granted.
- After 3 years of work, you either gain the opportunity to work independently or take an exam in Zurich in your specialization, depending on the cantonal decision.