Overcoming medical workforce shortages: opportunities and challenges for foreign doctors in Indonesia

medical workforce

Overcoming medical workforce shortages: opportunities and challenges for foreign doctors in Indonesia

medical workforceThe shortage of medical personnel, particularly specialist doctors, in Indonesia has reached a critical juncture. According to a report from the Ministry of Health, Indonesia faces a staggering deficit of 31,481 specialist doctors in the year 2023, despite serving a population of 277,432,360.

In response to this pressing issue, the House of Representatives (DPR) of the Republic of Indonesia passed the latest Health Law in July 2023, with the aim of providing a solution and opening the door for foreign specialist doctors to practice within the country.

While the Health Law represents a vital step towards addressing the shortage of specialist doctors, it does not simply open the doors to foreign medical professionals. Specific provisions within the law, notably articles 248 and 249, outline stringent requirements. These requirements have been established to ensure that foreign doctors practicing in Indonesia are highly qualified individuals with the necessary competencies. Multiple stages of testing and criteria must be met before foreign doctors are granted the privilege to practice.

Stringent requirements for foreign doctors

The enactment of the latest Health Law is not without its share of pros and cons. Some arguments against these provisions contend that the ease of access for foreign doctors to practice in Indonesia may lead to an influx of foreign healthcare professionals with varying competency standards.

In response to these concerns, the Health Law establishes several requirements for the practice of foreign doctors. These requirements include that foreign doctors must hold official certifications in their respective fields of expertise, as well as a Certificate of Registration (STR) and a Practice Permit (SIP) issued by the government or relevant professional organizations. Foreign doctors are also obligated to work in hospitals with educational programs to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology.

Controlled adaptation is also a crucial prerequisite, ensuring that foreign doctors can effectively acclimate themselves to the medical environment and local culture. This ensures that the medical services provided align with the needs and values of Indonesian society.

Crucial! Background checks

To guarantee the quality of healthcare services, background checks on foreign doctors to be recruited are a pivotal step. This examination process must encompass a comprehensive evaluation of the doctor’s qualifications, experience, and credentials.

Background checks not only ensure the competence of foreign doctors but also provide assurance to the public that their health and well-being are top priorities. The verification of documents such as STR and SIP is essential for confirming the doctor’s ethical and behavioral history.

Furthermore, background checks on doctors may also include reference check, criminal check, drug screening and health tests, and media searches.

Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that there are challenges related to impostor doctors who employ false degrees or credentials. Therefore, it is imperative for the government to have a robust mechanism and infrastructure for executing this verification process.

Collaboration with a third party that is impartial, possesses a strong reputation for conducting background checks, and has extensive experience in vetting prospective foreign employees can be a prudent step to guarantee that this process is performed smoothly.

In conclusion, the measures outlined in the latest Health Law offer opportunities for foreign doctors to contribute to addressing the shortage of medical professionals in Indonesia. However, these opportunities must be accompanied by strict regulations to ensure the quality and safety of healthcare services provided to the public.


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