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Old 18-06-2014, 11:01   #1
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Physician working abroad while sailing

Anyone have experience working while cruising? I am a Pulmonary and critical care physician in my 40's contemplating casting off the docklines and working while cruising. Kids are soon into college. I was looking for some advice on locating jobs, licensure, getting paid, etc.

Thanks,
Ben
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Old 18-06-2014, 11:37   #2
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

Cruising where? In the US you obviously have to deal with state registration on a state by state issue. In the Carribean, well frm my mothers experience while we were down cruising, she was never hassled about anything. She never bothered registering, and her scripts were always filled at the local pharmacy (if there was one), but often she filled them from the ships supplies.

As for payment. Most often she didn't get paid, sometimes in fresh fish or produce, but almost never in cash. Lots of local good will however. Most of the people we met were at best substinace level fisherman with a couple of chickens. They were living on less per year than a mole removal might cost in the US.

I you are talking about moving to an island permanently it is almost rediculiously easy to get a permanent resident card for a US doctor. But don't expect to make near what you would in the states. Most islands will accept board certification from the states with no additional testing or training, but every country is different. In reality though they are so desperate for doctors none of this is a real issue.

When my mom moved to Jamaica full time for instance... The local hospital offered to get her a permanent residents visa, work visa, credentialed, and pay her insurance (she kept her us coverage). Just to be willing to take call from time to time.
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Old 18-06-2014, 12:05   #3
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Thank you so much! That was great info. In my dream world, I would drop the hook in the BVI or caribbean somewhere and work. All we would need is enough money to buy food, boat repairs, marina spot, etc. We really enjoy the BVI, so to be able to winter there and then come home type thing.
A grouper, lobster or Mahi is ok, too.

I also fantasize about working in the med, like greece or Italy. I suspect they have more stringent rules.

How long did you live abroad?

Ben
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Old 18-06-2014, 12:45   #4
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

As I remember the BVI and US VI were the most stringent places we went, but frankly I couldn't tell you the details. My guess is you would do better to fly back to the US for a really crappy week every month covering an ER nonstop then flying back than you would trying to actually make money in the islands.

On the other hand 'free' medical care is a commodity, and many islands live on a barter system. The most common issues people faced were things than in the US would just be routine. Lots of antibiotics, antibiotic and antihistamine ointments, pink eye, ect probably made up the majority of what she dealt with. But a lot of people had no other access to medical care, so it wouldn't have been surprising if they lost limbs to simple infections.

I would probably recommend getting in touch with an organization like Doctors Without Boarders, ISOS, ect. You may also want to contact St George Medical School in Grenada. They were something of an informal resource for doctors in the Caribean. I don't know if they are still doing is, but at the time they could help guide you a little.

We were down island on and off for about 10 years. Until about 15 years ago, until my parents divorced... About 7 years ago mom moved to Jamaica full time.
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Old 18-06-2014, 12:53   #5
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Thanks so much!! I thought about St. George medical school, as well.

Ben
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Old 18-06-2014, 12:54   #6
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

I have the same type of plan. The kids are either in, or finished with, college. The boat is nearing completion........but...now we are expecting another. The show must go on. I hope she (its a girl) dosent get sea sick often .:-)
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Old 18-06-2014, 12:59   #7
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

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Originally Posted by bensolomon View Post
Thank you so much! That was great info. In my dream world, I would drop the hook in the BVI or caribbean somewhere and work. All we would need is enough money to buy food, boat repairs, marina spot, etc. We really enjoy the BVI, so to be able to winter there and then come home type thing.
A grouper, lobster or Mahi is ok, too.

I also fantasize about working in the med, like greece or Italy. I suspect they have more stringent rules.

How long did you live abroad?

Ben
On Greek islands I met some foreign doctors, running their practice there.
Probably it is not so difficult to obtain the licence there, and there is some shortage of doctors on islands. On the other hand I'm not sure if it is profitable enough. The island people are not wealthy ones, and summer visitors have mainly small issues only.
Anyway You can check about the formalities with Greek embassy. Many Greek islands are wonderful place to live. But the language is difficult to learn, and You really need to, to work there.
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Old 18-06-2014, 12:59   #8
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

If you can teach, you might want to look into the possibility of joining the faculty at one of the medical schools in the Caribbean. The ones I'm aware of are on St Kitts (2), Nevis, Saba, Dominica, and Grenada.
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Old 18-06-2014, 13:09   #9
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

Ben,

There are a lot of places in the Pacific that will accept a US license, including the US territories, Australia and NZ. I get emails daily offering me work in NZ and will surely take them up on it when we pass through there. My current plan is to cruise Mexico and Latin America and look for work on a cruise ship during the hurricane season. You could probably do the same in the Caribbean. I got my MD from Ross Univ. in Dominica and would be surprised if you could not find work there or St. Lucia. In fact, you might check with the Caribbean schools (St George's, Ross, American University of the Caribbean) to see if they need an instructor. The pay wont be what you are used to but neither will the hassles.
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Old 18-06-2014, 15:36   #10
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We don't need much money. Just enough to support the cruising kitty. I have looked into the teaching option in the Caribbean and the one school I looked at offers visiting professorships for semesters at a time. Certainly don't want to join another rat race, but working while living in different places on a sailboat would be great.

Ben
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Old 18-06-2014, 15:37   #11
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We sailed Greece for three weeks and loved it. That's when this idea first came up.

Ben
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Old 18-06-2014, 16:00   #12
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

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Originally Posted by bensolomon View Post
We sailed Greece for three weeks and loved it. That's when this idea first came up.

Ben
May be the Greek language is a little bit easier for English speakers, than for us, Polish
I do not want to discourage You in any way. If one can both sail and work there - it is fantastic place, really
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Old 18-06-2014, 16:29   #13
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Re: Physician working abroad while sailing

personally,
i'd just do locum tenens gigs 3-6 months a year to fill up the kitty and cruise the rest.

outside NZ, ozland and maybe singapore your earning potential would be highest in us of a.
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Old 18-06-2014, 16:47   #14
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I agree regarding the remuneration, but.....working in a tropical paradise and coming home to the boat seems nice.

Ben
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Old 18-06-2014, 16:48   #15
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And of course there's the sense of serving people that don't have access to good health care.

Ben
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