1st Appeal Letter

Dear All;

My name is Dr. Muhammad Zeitsev Azman (Yeop Azman) and I was part of the first generation of graduates from the University of Zagreb Medical Studies in English Program. Through my six years of education here, I have started to love the school, the country and the friendliness of its people. I have never complained much and after assimilating to the cultural norms, I have “rolled with the punches” and tried to make the best out of my situation. As you know, the situation hasn’t changed from my graduation in July 2009. Initially, it was not my plan to stay here and as Jean Loup said in one of his documents, that we have the possibility of taking the USMLE and trying to practice in the US. However, after paying high tuition and living costs in Zagreb, it is hard to save up for the high costs of the USMLE.

I must admit that it was my fault to assume that the University of Zagreb was going to be recognized by the Malaysian Medical Council after my father, the former Ambassador of Malaysia to Croatia (H.E. Dato’ Azman bin Mohd. Nazir), had sent two delegations to see the school and evaluate its facilities and programs. However, I was unlucky to go through an election and an unexpected government shift in Malaysia and this case was not a priority since there are not a lot of Malaysian students studying in this region.

After graduation in 2009, I went back to Malaysia, but could not get the school recognized and I could not find a possibility to work as a medical doctor or in clinical research without being licensed. So in December 2009, I came back to Croatia to explore my options. My colleagues who had graduated with me were lucky enough to be either diaspora or Croatian. One had to even claim a citizenship to be able to apply for “staz”.

Since there was a major “roadblock” in being licensed as a medical doctor, I decided to try to apply to the PhD program in order to stay in Croatia and wait until I could get a chance for licensing, as not to waste 6 years of education (which has a high total cost of 42,000 Euro of tuition and around 49,000 Euro of living expenses). However, the criteria of the PhD program is very special and requires previously published papers in order to even apply (which normally, PhD programs are the opportunity for people to publish their first papers). Since I didn’t make the limited 10 spots by 1 point, I was distraught and decided to join the fight for doing my “staz” in Croatia, so that I can have my right to work as a medical doctor.

As far as I understood, we are able to apply for “staz” and have a possibility of getting a position. My talk with the great people at HZZO led to the point that “staz” for foreigners would be considered “bez placenje” or purely voluntary. I told them that if I really wanted to fight for my right to get licensed and succumb to work 80 hours a week for one year to become a medical doctor, then they would have to issue me a work permit, so I can work legally in any other field to support myself. However, they did not even consider that and that would eventually become a problem to support myself while giving free full employment service to HZZO. However according to the new by-laws, “staz” is a “full employment position” and by definition the “stazist” should be paid, given benefits and be treated equally regardless of race, gender, orientation, etc. (which is also an article under the Croatian constitution).

The larger problem that I see is the limited number of visas for foreign doctors and the possibility to work and survive while waiting for our right to “staz”. The medical school now has 209 students; “full-fledged” foreigners now out-weighing the diaspora. Yearly, this brings almost 1.5 million Euros income into Croatia. Although the teachers that teach us do get a little benefit, the curriculum, teachers and most exams are the same as the Croatian Studies. Thus this program does bring a hefty and hopefully helpful income to the Ministry of Education and the healthcare system. By having international students here, we pay higher rent than the local population and also put in more money into the general economy through living costs. Although most students maintain a modest lifestyle, I know a lot of other students who like to maintain their lifestyle in more western or eastern countries.

Case in point for 6 years, we have added to the economy, helped shape the school into becoming internationally known, created an interest in the University of Zagreb, brought friends and family as tourists to enjoy the country’s offerings, fell in love, fell out of love and started a life in Croatia. Thus I implore you to expedite our position in a hospital, get our licenses, and let us start working as medical doctors to help out the people, societies and countries who so desperately need it. In medicine there should be no politics, no discrimination! As medical doctors, it is our right to be able to be there for the “benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves (do not take Hippocrates literally; the meaning states that we should be to help the sick without any discrimination).”

I hope that you take my words and my story into consideration, will expedite the procedures of getting our rightful positions as medical doctors in Croatia, and will allow us to use our God given knowledge and skills in helping this society instead of hindering us with political viewpoints, protocols, discrimination and bureaucracies.

I sincerely hope that you have a relaxing weekend, have clear minds, and will get things done on Monday.

Thank you and Sincerely,

Muhammad Zeitsev Azman, MD

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  1. Dear Sir,

    At start I could say that I feel sorry for your problem as well as for the
    problems of other medical students who attended the Zagreb Medical
    faculty. Because of that I can understand your disappointment and anger.
    But you are looking the wrong side.

    “Staz” that you called is internship which ends with the state exam. In
    Croatia it lasts for an year and it was always considered as an work under
    the full obligation from Worker law. To work in any country in the world
    you need to regulate your status in the country, and in the Croatia that
    is under the Law on foreign citizens. It is the same in the EU where some
    countries has the same rules. As far as the question on one year
    internship and the state exam it is also an obligation in most European
    countries. In the USA you need only USMLE without internship. I really
    wonder who gave you and other students the idea that you could work in
    Croatia without regulating your status as an foreign citizen or that you
    could work your internship and attend the state exam which by law is meant
    for Croatian citizens only. As much as I would like to help you and the
    other students, I can’t because it is just not legally possible to break
    couple of law acts with the bylaw act. However, there is a slight
    possibility for you and the others, according to law to resolve your
    problem and I’m disappointed that Dean and the Medical faculty Zagreb
    didn’t explain you that. Even more, a year ago, Medical faculty could
    officially ask for extending the foreigners quota for workers for 2011.
    and the problem could be solved.

    Now you could first apply for Croatia citizenship to the Ministry of
    interior and after the confirmation the problem is practically solved.
    That is perhaps the only way of resolving the problem. Anything else would
    be breaking not just one but several law acts (Worker law, Law on health
    protection, Law on patients rights, Medical doctors law and others). And
    for your knowledge, according to the EU conventions and Croatian
    Constitution there are no possibility of discrimination on citizenship.
    Your problem is presented to the minister of education, science and
    sports, and I hope that pretty soon that there would be a meeting on this
    issue.

    Sincerely,

    Ante-Zvonimir Golem, M.D.

    • My reply to his considerations would be:

      1. In Croatia it lasts for an year and it was always considered as an work under the full obligation from Worker law. To work in any country in the world you need to regulate your status in the country, and in the Croatia that is under the Law on foreign citizens.

      Dispute: Yes, it is true, but we have to fit the quota of not only this generation, but the future generations of other students. If there will be no quota on our positions, there should be a stop to the medical school, because it will be providing false medical education that results in non-qualified doctors that cannot work. This is not just false advertising, but fraud (http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?t=31023). If we are not able to license ourselves, we are contributing to a scam school that doesn’t allow us to continue with our careers, which is not only a waste of money, but a waste of time.

      2. In the USA you need only USMLE without internship. I really wonder who gave you and other students the idea that you could work in Croatia without regulating your status as an foreign citizen or that you could work your internship and attend the state exam which by law is meant for Croatian citizens only.

      In the USA, you need the USMLE which is a three step process. The first step is taken after 2 years that is required before the student can enter the clinical rotations. After graduation, you must take step two. This is to prove that the freshly graduated doctor is competent to handle patients under supervision. After TWO years of RESIDENCY, a local (non international) medical doctor will take step three, which licenses the doctor fully to handle patients on their own. I think Dr. Golem doesn’t understand the process of normal medical education in the US. We do not just do a 6 year education. Every American medical doctor is previously educated with a Bachelor’s degree. Which is what I have in Biochemistry and a minor in Music.

      3. Now you could first apply for Croatia citizenship to the Ministry of interior and after the confirmation the problem is practically solved. That is perhaps the only way of resolving the problem. Anything else would be breaking not just one but several law acts (Worker law, Law on health protection, Law on patients rights, Medical doctors law and others). And for your knowledge, according to the EU conventions and Croatian Constitution there are no possibility of discrimination on citizenship.

      In this statement, he is not making sense, because he knows that this is not possible for us to gain a Croatian citizenship. He is however correct on the constitution, but there is a procedure of being here for 5 years under a temporary residency and then even after getting a permanent residency, there is a “block” on gaining citizenship due to the “quota” of immigrants coming into the country regardless of their qualifications and their potential contribution to the country (i.e. a soccer player will have precedence over a doctor). However, we would not be breaking the “laws” if we are hired with a given position by a hospital and are given visas under the given quota. That is within the law,.

  1. 1 This One is for The Azman Family | Medical Advice and Life Blog

    […] licensed. So I moved back and we ran into legal issues and discrimination which you can read about HERE, HERE and […]




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