Living and working as an oncologist in Belgium

Facts and Statistics

Belgium Flag
  • Location: Western Europe, bordering France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands
  • Climate: temperate; mild winters, cool summers; rainy, humid, cloudy
  • Population: 11,071,483 (2011 statistics)
  • Ethnic make-up: Flemish 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
  • Religions: Roman Catholic 75%, Protestant or other 25%
  • Government: Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarch
  • Official languages: French, Flemish and German

Studying medicine in Belgium

As of 2012, it will take 6 years to study medicine in Belgium (3 years bachelor and 3 years master). A formal entrance exam was introduced in 1997 for the Flemish Universities. Beginning in 2013, the French Universities will also organise an entrance exam; this will not restrict the entrance into university, but rather evaluate students abilities. More information can be found at the following websites (not exhaustive information):

After medical school, you need to register with the medical council in Belgium. The choice of the medical council will depend on the province you are planning to practice medicine in. For more information please visit The order of Doctors web site

What do I need to do to become an oncologist in Belgium?

Medical oncology has been officially recognised in Belgium as a speciality since 2007. Please see the Ministerial order text .
The training consists of 3 years of internal medicine and 3 years of medical oncology. Please see  the Belgian Society of Medical Oncology’s description of requirements.
After finishing training, the candidate should provide his/her documents to the Federal Public Service: Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, for recognition by the Ministry of Health.
Once you have the recognition by the Ministry, you should apply for an INAMI / RIZIVI number, which allows you to practice oncology in the country. See the National Institute of Health and Disability Insurance.
For training in your speciality, you must have the agreement of the Federal Public Service: Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment.

Are there any Oncology Societies in Belgium?

Belgium has several societies for professionals from different disciplines dealing with cancer patients. Some examples of societies are (not an exhaustive list):

Is it possible to do a fellowship in Belgium?

Belgium has several fellowship opportunities in different hospitals/institutions. A few examples of institutions hosting fellows are (not an exhaustive list):

Belgian Society & Culture

Belgium is not a homogeneous country with a single national identity. As such, it is difficult to give a general overview that applies to all Belgians. Each area will have its own peculiarities. The three predominant cultures are: 1) The North, Flanders - primarily Dutch 2) The South, Wallonia – primarily French and 3) The North-East - primarily German influenced.

Languages

The official languages of Belgium are French, Dutch, and German. French is spoken by 33% of the population. Flemish, the local variant of Dutch, is spoken by approximately 60% of the population, mainly in the northern part of the country. The official languages taught in school are French and Dutch.  German, spoken by 1% of the population, can be heard in the cantons in the east of the Walloon region. Brussels, the capital of Belgium, has two official languages: French and Dutch. Luxembourgish is spoken by around 0.5% of the population, but the language has no official status. About 10% of the Belgian population is non-native, and the languages spoken include Italian, Spanish, Greek, Arabic, Portuguese, and Turkish

Where can I find useful information about living in Belgium?

Useful information about life in Belgium can be found at belgium.be
If you decide to settle in Belgium, do enjoy discovering it!