‘A love of learning was vital’

American Amanda K. moved to Vienna in June 2013 to pursue her graduate studies. As well as studying, she works at Gymboree Play & Music, a private childcare company which offers parents in Vienna the chance to spend more time with their young children in a specially-tailored environment.

'A love of learning was vital'
Amanda enjoying the snow.

How did you get your job and do you have any tips for someone looking for similar work? 

I got my job at Gymboree Play & Music when I saw a vacancy posting on the online group Americans in Vienna. Since I had experience in teaching English to children as a second language, the owner Margarita was happy to introduce me to their school skills program and the upcoming new bilingual playgroup.

We're very customer-oriented, and it’s a great team here at Gymbo. For those looking for similar work, my advice is to keep your eyes glued to such foreigner-centric online forums. Vacancy postings pop up often, but I like to think that I have been quite lucky. 

What were the requirements for your job and was German necessary?

A love of learning was vital. I think it is important to be energetic, kind, confident and competent, but most importantly – to like children! Of course work-experience with small children was also an advantage. German was not necessary as there are classes in both German and English, and I teach only the English ones.

Had you studied German before you arrived in Austria?

I didn’t begin studying German until I’d been in Vienna for four months. It’s such an international city that it’s easy to get around using only English. But that’s not to say that studying German is not important. Getting to know the culture becomes infinitely easier once you know the language.

What do you think is the best way for an English speaker to improve their German skills?

Practice every day. This is the same in any language. Once you get the basics of grammar and vocabulary right, just go out into the city and interact with people. If you don’t practice, you’ll never improve. It’s the same with the children I teach. The most important thing for me is that they need to have fun. Fun in learning a language for the first time is essential and opens a range of opportunities later in life. That's why I think my job reflects my enthusiasm for personal development.

What are your favourite aspects of life in Austria?

Austria is a beautiful country with lots of opportunities for travel. For the outdoorsy types, the hills and mountains provide excellent hiking. In Vienna itself, history and culture melt together in every corner of the city, and it is a perfect jumping off point for travel in Europe. It is, by all accounts, a wonderful place.

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Reader question: How can foreign doctors practise medicine in Austria?

If you are a doctor moving to Austria, there are a few legal requirements you need to follow before starting your medical practice. Here is what you should know.

Reader question: How can foreign doctors practise medicine in Austria?

Medical doctors are in high demand all over the world, especially as the coronavirus pandemic showed us how much we are short-staffed in the health sector.

In Austria, it’s no different, and the federal government has already announced several measures to attract people to its health sector in the future.

READ ALSO: More pay and longer holidays: How Austria hopes to attract 75,000 new nurses

Among the measures are changes to its Red-White-Red residence permits, those that, for example, allow workers, including in shortage occupations, to immigrate to Austria on a work visa.

Things will get easier for many IT employees, engineers, and tourist sector workers, but in some sectors, including the health one, there are a few more hurdles before starting working.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

When it comes to medical activities, even European citizens who already have a right to live and work in Austria might need to go through a process to get their education certified and valid to start a medical practice in the country.

The process will depend primarily on where your training has taken place and what type of medical activity you intend on doing. All details can be found on the Austrian Medical Association (Österreische Ärztekammer).

General requirements for medical practice

In order to take up a medical practice in Austria, every physician (doctor, specialist, or general practitioner) needs to register with the Ärztekammer and meet the general legal requirements.

These include having full legal capacity concerning professional practice, good character and reputation required for fulfilling professional duties, fitness to practice needed for completing professional responsibilities, sufficient knowledge of the German language and legal residence giving access to the labour market.

READ ALSO: Everything foreigners need to know about the Austrian healthcare system

There are also specific requirements that need to be met depending on where your training took place.

Training took place within the EEA or in Switzerland

In this case, the process tends to be a bit easier, and you need to provide evidence of your basic medical training and any specific or specialist training you might have. For that, a diploma for medical study issued by an EEA member state of Switzerland will work.

You can check whether your documents are eligible for automatic recognition in Austria by emailing the Austrian Medical Association at [email protected].

Medical training outside the EEA (but recognised)

If you have had medical training outside of the EEA or Switzerland, but your training has been recognised by one of these states, the rules are also a bit different. You must show evidence of the medical activity and proof of its recognition.

Additionally, you must be authorised to independent medical practice in the country that recognised your education and has at least three years of actual and lawful professional experience in that country to have your training recognised through a non-automatic recognition of third country diplomas process.

You need to contact the International Affairs Team of the Austrian Medical Association ([email protected]) to get more information.

Medical training done in a third country

If you have completed your medical training in a third country and do not fulfil the requirements for a non-automatic recognition (above), you must first have your university degree recognised as equivalent by an Austrian university.

This process is known as Nostrifizierung.

In Austria, the Nostrifizierung procedure is done by the medical universities (Vienna, Graz or Innsbruck) with similar processes. In Vienna, you need to submit an application form, an education history for the comparison between the Curriculum taken and the one offered in Austria, and a possible “random test”.

Among the documents to be submitted in the application process is proof that you have a B2 level of German, a document from the Ärztekammer that you are required to go through the Nostrifizierung process and a confirmation that you paid the €150 fee. You can find a list of all documents you’ll need to submit here.

READ ALSO: Six things to know about visiting a doctor in Austria

The universities will then “investigate” if your education is equivalent to the one offered in Austria. The first step is a curriculum comparison (checking for both content and hours of classes), but they may also carry out a “random test” in some cases.

The test will be in German, but the participants selected will be allowed to use a language dictionary – the test results are only a part of the nostrification process and help the universities assess if the candidate’s training is equivalent to an Austrian one.

After you go through the recognition processes (Nostrifizierung), you can register with the Austrian Medical Chamber.

Registration with the Austrian Medical Association

Before starting medical practice in Austria, every person needs to register with the Austrian Medical Chamber. For this, they will need to send documents including proof of nationality, proof of lawful residence, a certificate of good standing from countries where they have practised medicine for more than six months within the last five years, a criminal record certificate, medical certificate (confirming physical and mental fitness to practice the medical profession) and more.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the Austrian healthcare system works

The application for registration has to be filed with the Austrian Medical Chamber.

The Medical Chamber of the respective province where you plan to exercise the medical profession is available to further assist with this. You can arrange a meeting with them to clarify general questions about the process.

Here you can find more information.