Doctor’s Case Study in Portugal: Interview with a Brazilian ENT doctor

13 de October, 2019

Doctor’s Case Study in Portugal: Interview with a Brazilian ENT doctor

Reading: 8 min

Those who follow our articles know that there has already been a lot of information and steps taught to foreign medical colleagues who wish to work in Portugal. The experience of being a doctor outside Brazil can be laborious and demanding… A long way, but is it worth it? To answer this question in the most genuine and transparent way possible, in today’s article we will present a successful medical case in Portugal.

Follow the testimony of Dr. Guilherme C. de M., a doctor graduated in Brazil and who since 2016 has been working as an Otorhinolaryngologist in one of the largest private hospital networks in Portugal.

If you want to talk to an expert now click here.

Successful medical case in Portugal: testimony of who was successful

1. Dr. Guilherme, why Portugal?

My desire to live and work in Portugal arose after an academic exchange I did at the University of Porto in 2008, when I studied most of the 6th year of college. During this period it was impossible not to fall in love with Portugal!

I liked the quality of life around here, in addition to the health systems, public safety and simple lifestyle of the Portuguese. The simplicity of the people was something that enchanted me and, obviously, the food too!

Global Moving: check out the article that shows how doctors also have no borders.

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2. How was the validation process of your medical degree in Portugal?

It was a basically bureaucratic process, in which I had to put together a list of documents, including diplomas, school transcripts and course menus.

I joined the process in 2011 by the New University of Lisbon, via the Treaty of Friendship between Brazil and Portugal, which unfortunately is no longer applicable today. In a first stage, they proceeded with an evaluation of my curriculum, subjects studied and course load.

Once approved, due to the similarity to the course programme in Portugal, came the last stage, the public test, consisting of the “oral defense” of a curriculum memorial. The conclusion of the process lasted about nine months.

3. And how was the equivalence process of your specialty?

The equivalence of the medical specialty was the process of greatest waiting, lasted 22 months. I started in December 2014.

The first step was to deliver an extremely detailed curriculum of all my academic and professional experience. The body responsible for the assessment is the College of Specialty of the Order of Physicians, in my case that of Otorhinolaryngology. For each candidate a jury is awarded and from there the entire chain of decisions is taken.

In my case, the jury decided, after 7 months of delivery of the curriculum, that I should do a 3-month complementary internship, which I did in 2016 at the IPO (Portuguese Institute of Oncology) of Lisbon. Unfortunately I had to wait 4 months from the date of the jury’s decision until I got the internship spot.

After the completion of this internship, I submitted a very detailed conclusion report to the chairman of my jury. After a few weeks I was told by the College of Specialty that I would have the direct approval as a specialist in Otorhinolaryngology, without the need for an examination.

4. How was your career as a Brazilian doctor in Portugal?

Since I arrived in Portugal in 2015, I waited until the conclusion of my process of recognition of the specialty to start my professional medical activity. So I started work as a medical expert.

As an Otorhinolaryngologist in Portugal, I was soon invited to be part of an Otorhinolaryngology Unit to work in general otorhinolaryngology and also with a focus on the area of otology and cochlear implantation, within a large group of private hospitals in Portugal. I also work in smaller private clinics such as Otorrino General.

After a few months acting, I also received invitations to act in the public, via contract or participation in a public contest. These positions are not assumed for reasons of personal choice.

The risk of not taking the end-of-medical specialty examination

It is important to point out that, at the stage of the equivalence of the speciality, not being submitted to an end-of-specialty examination may be detrimental to the candidate, especially if he wishes to compete in open competitions. That’s because when you don’t take the exam you end up without a final specialty grade. In Portugal every specialist who completes the speciality here takes an exit exam and is awarded a mark. This mark is the one used to rank candidates in open competitions.

So if you don’t take the exam, you don’t get a grade and you’ll always be last in the list of candidates in the competition, as if it were the last grade, if it’s the only candidate there’s no problem.

5. What are the differences between being a doctor in Brazil and in Portugal?

In terms of recurrent pathologies and medical practice, medicine is very globalized and similar. The basic difference is professional valorisation: the doctor in Portugal is still respected. In addition, Portugal has more technical structure, with better equipment, especially in public hospitals, when compared to Brazil.

Fewer bureaucratic functions and lower salaries

Another positive point here is that the doctor has fewer bureaucratic functions, fewer roles to fill, thus dedicating himself more to the practice of real medicine. The worst side would say that is the lowest remuneration in Portugal, especially in the private sector, when compared to Brazil. In addition, the chances of career progression, from a financial point of view, are also lower. However, it is worth noting that the cost of living in Portugal is much lower than in Brazil.

Less workload

The volume of work is another differential issue, being much higher in Brazil, especially in my case that I lived the reality of work in São Paulo. It is enough to think that the Portuguese population is 20 times smaller than the Brazilian one.

An example of my area of expertise is that if an ENT in Brazil would perform 15 surgeries per week, in Portugal this number could not even reach 4. Remembering that most of my experience in Portugal is in the private sector, which is also still a growing sector and is not as consolidated as in Brazil.

The attention of the Brazilian doctor is a differential

Another interesting point is the patient medical relationship. We, Brazilians, have a tendency to be closer and more affectionate with our patients than the Portuguese or Europeans in general. In general, this is a point that favours us.

success case of doctor in Portugal care

6. Did you ever want to leave everything and go back to Brazil?

No, but that’s because it’s important to think long before the change. Change is a very difficult thing. It is important to consider many differences and have the chance to think very carefully.

In my case, I was able to live in Portugal for a while before I made that decision. The objectives were well planned and gradually achieved.
Expectations must be adjusted to reality and to your personal goals, because the biggest source of frustration I see in my colleagues is not the quality of life or professional life, but the error in the expectations created.

7. How are Brazilian doctors seen by the medical community?

Brazilian medicine is highly recognized and valued, even for its high degree of specialization. In Portugal, and in several other European countries, many doctors praise the professionals and numbers of procedures that we have achieved in Brazil, especially in large colleges and private hospitals. On the other hand, a part of the medical society knows that Brazil has a very disparate medical background.

I don’t think there is a prejudice for nationality X or Y, but because it is not literally known. As they get to know you, they see that you are a good professional, ethical and dedicated, so the doors open. And I can say that it was easier to integrate myself into the Portuguese medical world than the Brazilian one!

Another different point is that patients are often very satisfied with the charisma of the Brazilian doctor.

8. What advice can you give to our medical colleagues who want to leave Brazil and practice medicine abroad?

Planning and understanding how the rules work in the country that wants to immigrate is fundamental. What local legislation and the rules of your medical specialty in that country require in order to become a specialist, and thus be able to make your training compatible with that curriculum/rule.

If you want to go to Germany, for example, the ideal curriculum of an ENT doctor in Germany is X and you have to guide your training based on this, because it will help you from a professional point of view.

But from a personal point of view, things must also be very realistic, so the second point is to match expectations. For example, Germany can be a great country for a doctor to work in, but you can hate the weather, the food or even the way people deal with things and that can frustrate your experience and bring you unhappiness.

We have to remember that life is not just about being a doctor, you go to the market, you take the bus, you live with people, you go to a restaurant, etc. That’s why living in a place where you plan to live in the future is an almost essential step.

9. In short, do you think it was worth it?


My planning was long, but the certainties solidified over time. The negative side, clearly, is the distance from the family: unfortunately, it is not possible to bring all the people and this is an insurmountable limitation.
From my experience, I would say that if you are with adjusted expectations, make a good planning and be careful with the execution of your plan, invest in this dream that he has everything to succeed, yes!

Did you like to know this successful case of doctor in Portugal? If you have the will to live and practice medicine in Portugal click here to request more information and details.

Testimony: Dr. Guilherme C. de M.: doctor graduated from UNICAMP in 2008, Specialist in Otorhinolaryngology (2009-2012) and Otology (2012-2013), as well as PhD in medical sciences in the area of Otorhinolaryngology (2013-2017), also from that institution.

Article published on the Euro Tips website: https://www.eurodicas.com.br/case-de-sucesso-de-medico-em-portugal/

Author: Mariana Ramalho
Doctor & Consultant



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