New Zealand is an island nation situated in the northwestern Pacific. Today, it is recognized as one of the most peaceful and progressive countries in the world. It is among the best in the world in terms of education, reform, civil right, and healthcare. Because of this, many highly trained professionals choose to uproot their lives and careers in New Zealand. For a better understanding of just what is required to be a medical doctor in New Zealand, check out the article below.

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How to Become a Medical Doctor in New Zealand

1. When considering a career in New Zealand, the first requirement on any list will be language proficiency.

This is the first step to becoming a medical doctor in New Zealand. Luckily for eager applicants, this peaceful island recognizes as many as three official languages, among which are English, Maori, and NZ Sign Language. The first of the three, English is the most widespread and commonly used language on the island. It is the language of everyday communication, education, the law, and healthcare. Thus, both aspiring and licensed medical doctors will need to be proficient speakers of English before applying for their desired position.

English is among the most spoken languages in the world. Most individuals around the globe acquire it through both formal and informal education during their lives. Thus, exhibiting a high level of language proficiency does not usually pose a great problem for medical students and practitioners. However, regardless of their subjective proficiency level, all non-native speakers of English will need to pass a test such as the IELTS exam or the Occupational English Test (OET) before starting their professional careers in New Zealand.

2. The most straightforward path to becoming a certified doctor in New Zealand is graduating from a medical program on the island.

At present, New Zealand has two medical faculties, the first at the University of Otago and the second within the University of Auckland. Both faculties are internationally renowned and thus commonly welcome medical students from both home and abroad.

Both New Zealand and foreign students will have to register and pass the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT). In addition to this examination, foreign students who want to become medical doctors in New Zealand will also be required to submit a secondary school curriculum. This will act as proof that they have completed the necessary courses in the fields of healthcare, biology, and chemistry.

Once accepted, students must complete a six-year program to acquire their medical degrees. The initial two years focus on establishing a theoretical basis. Thus, students primarily learn about medical theory with little practical work and chance of application. Year 3 introduces students to clinical practice, while Years 4 and 5 represent a mandatory clinical period. During these two years, students observe and participate in medical practice. After Year 5, there is an obligatory exam that all students must pass to progress to the final year of their medical program. In the last year, students gain the status of trainee intern at one of New Zealand’s hospitals.

3. All medical graduates must acquire a medical license and complete a mandatory residency period in New Zealand.

Upon graduation, medical graduates are still not licensed medical practitioners. Thus, they must first submit their diploma to the New Zealand Medical Council. Foreigner graduates may also be asked to submit a certification of language proficiency.

In addition to the above, the Medical Council may require individuals to register for and pass the NZREX Clinical registration exam. This exam shows that a medical graduate or practitioner possesses enough knowledge and skill to safely practice medicine. The exam expires after five years after which it needs to be retaken.

After submitting the necessary documentation, medical graduates officially come to bear the title of house officer or supervised junior doctor. This also means that they have begun their residency training, which lasts for two years in New Zealand. To become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, all medical practitioners require another three to five years of specialization. Securing a desired residency and specialization will depend on academic achievement, medical skill, and dedication.

4. There are a few additional steps for foreign licensed medical doctors who wish to practice medicine in New Zealand.

Foreign medical professionals make up almost half of New Zealand’s medical staff with the national Shortages list recognizing many medical specializations. This all means, that foreign medical practitioners are highly desired and welcome in New Zealand.

Once they have met the language requirement there are just a few more necessary steps. For one, non-specialized medical professionals must secure employment before coming to New Zealand. In other words, they need to be hired by either a hospital or healthcare center on the island. Specialized medical practitioners may skip this step.

However, the next requirement to becoming a medical doctor in New Zealand applies to both of the above groups – visa application. All foreign practitioners must apply for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. This category signals that their profession is highly desired and may be beneficial to New Zealand’s economy. The first step is to complete the Expression of Interest (EOI) form. After this, candidates who fulfill all the requirements will be asked to come in for an interview.

Once the visa is approved, medical doctors have just one more step before they start practicing medicine in New Zealand. All practitioners must register so that they may receive a practicing certificate. After this document has been issued, it is up to the individual, they may choose to work for a government-run institution or open a private practice.


I hope that you found this article on how to become a doctor in New Zealand informative and helpful. Make sure to also check out our Scholarships Page for different information on scholarships and universities across the globe!