Four Tallinn hospitals are proposing to temporarily recognize Ukrainian medical certificates so they can employ nurses and midwives with previous experience as assistants. It is hoped this will help alleviate Estonia's shortage of medical professionals.
Ukrainians would be hired to work as nurses' assistants so they can start learning the Estonian language and work practices, hospital managers said in a letter to Minister of Health and Labor Tanel Kiik (Center). The position needs to be given a new legal status.
The heads said there is currently a shortage of nurses and midwives in Estonia and this could help reduce it.
The address was sent by the chairmen of North Estonian Medical Center (PERH), West Tallinn Central Hospital, East Tallinn Central Hospital and the Tallinn Children's Hospital.
"We want to act responsibly, providing Ukrainian nurses and midwives with a dignified opportunity to work in the professional field they have acquired, in accordance with their training and abilities, in order to maintain their skills and experience throughout the language and learning process," they wrote.
As new arrivals need an income, they may move into other sectors or even leave Estonia if they cannot work in healthcare, the chairmen wrote. Tallinn hospitals also have a shortage of trained and experienced nurses.
The hospital managers also laid out the prerequisites for working as a nurse in Estonia, which include B2 level Estonian and higher education.
Explaining why the position of nurse's assistant should be given a legal status, they wrote it is to "motivate the completion of the courses offered by the College of Language Learning and Health Care".
Several hospitals and private medical companies have already expressed an interest in hiring Ukrainian medical professionals.
At least one company has also been caught trying to employ Ukrainians on lower salaries, which they say is due to a lack of Estonian language skills and qualifications
The Estonian Medical Association said the EU requires doctors from third countries to pass a two-stage inspection. First, a documentation check, followed by six months of work experience and a theory exam which must be taken in Estonian. Only then can a doctor, nurse or midwife work independently in Estonia.
Editor: Helen Wright