Many people deal with pre-existing and chronic medical conditions that vary in severity. Whether you have a chronic condition that requires medication or you’re in perfect health and are just worried about access to medical services, there are some important things to know prior to teaching abroad.
Can I teach abroad with my condition?
Teaching Nomad has helped many teachers with varying chronic medical conditions to obtain teaching positions abroad. Here is a brief list of medical conditions that will NOT prevent you from obtaining a residence permit abroad: cancer (in remission), diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, depression, etc. In short, any condition that is not communicable will not prevent you from receiving a work permit. In fact, even if you have prescription medication, you’ll be able to live and work in a foreign country, which we’ll go into in more detail below.
Unlike non-communicable diseases such as the ones listed above, communicable diseases will almost always prohibit teachers from qualifying for a work permit in a foreign country. Examples of common communicable diseases are HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and viral hepatitis. The exact list of communicable diseases that prevent people from acquiring a work or residence permit will vary by country, so it's always a good idea to double-check with your recruiter or school.
There are some communicable diseases that you may have previously contracted but no longer carry, such as malaria, dengue fever, or influenza. As long as these conditions would not appear in a medical exam, then they would likely not prevent you from teaching abroad.
The exact medical examination process will vary by country. For China, you will be required to complete an examination both in your home country and once you arrive in China. The examination in your home country is more of a formality, and Teaching Nomad can guide you through this process.
Most countries will simply require a single medical exam conducted in the destination country. This exam will be far more detailed than one conducted in your home country, so it is important to discuss all possible complications with your school to be sure you will pass the medical exam and receive your residency permit.
One surprisingly common reason for failing a medical exam is “fatty liver disease”. This is a condition frequently associated with heavy drinking, but many teachers who fail the medical exam for this reason were previously undiagnosed. To prevent a failed exam for fatty liver, avoid drinking the night before the exam and ideally for several days leading up to the medical exam.
Doctors, Hospitals, and Medication Abroad
Once you’ve passed your medical exam to teach abroad, there may still be challenges associated with teaching and living abroad with a chronic medical condition. If you require routine doctor’s appointments, then you’ll want to make sure you have access to English-speaking doctors and modern Western amenities.
The same will go for teachers who don’t necessarily need routine checkups but need access to suitable medical amenities in case of emergency. This will be an important factor in deciding where to teach abroad. Medical facilities and practices will vary greatly from country to country and even city to city. For example -- Shanghai, China will offer medical coverage of just about any kind with access to top-notch facilities and English-speaking doctors. Meanwhile, certain other parts of China will offer limited access to Western facilities and English-speaking doctors.
Another factor in managing a medical condition abroad will likely be medication. Requiring medication will not prevent you from teaching and living abroad, as most can be brought over in bulk along with a prescription from your doctor and can be refilled anytime you return to your home country. Alternatively, you can have your prescription refilled by a doctor while abroad, although be aware that it is unlikely that you would receive the exact same brand as you would at home.
It is important to be honest with your recruiter and school when discussing your medical condition and the accommodation that you may need to be content in your new home. Many issues can be worked out in your favor, so just let us know what's going on right away, and we will do everything we can to help you. We are here to help you realize your dream of teaching abroad!