“The idea was to try working in Rome for a year and see how it went. This sensible American plan collapsed under the weight of Italian bureaucracy.
Luckily I didn’t investigate every angle before starting off; if I had known the true lay of the land I might not have kept going after that Italian medical license like a donkey after his carrot. I’d have taken a job in some clinic in the Bronx, where I’d be seeing four patients an hour to this day. Instead, I made those steps you can’t retrace: gave up my three-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side with views of the Empire State Building and the Tri- borough Bridge, and sold my Dodge Challenger convertible to a pinky-ringed Turkish importer-exporter who planned to strip it down to the skeleton of an Oriental low-rider.
Months beforehand I started focusing my Manhattanite efficiency on getting registered in Italy, my Italian husband leading me by the hand through the wilderness of Old World red tape. The first step was “getting my documents together,” an Italian ritual repeated before every encounter with officialdom. Sticking to a list kindly provided by the Italian Consulate, I collected my birth certificate, passport, high school diploma, college diploma, college transcript, medical school diploma, medical school transcript, certificates of internship and residency, National Board Examination certificates, American Board of Internal Medicine test results, and specialization diploma. Then I got them transfigured into Italian by the one person in New York authorized by the Italian Consulate to crown his translation with an imprimatur. We judiciously gave him a set of our own translations as crib notes, tailored by my husband to match the Rome medical school curriculum.”
Susan Levenstein is an internal medicine physician and author of Dottoressa: An American Doctor in Rome.
She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “An American doctor in Rome.”
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