This was on my mind for a while since the Minister of Tourism, Health & Sport announced this has become a reality, on Aug. 2nd, 2021

When you go to see a doctor in Aruba, you know that he/she underwent the BIG-register certification in the Netherlands, upon graduation, and that they are professionally competent in the healthcare field.

The BIG-register also means that if you have international, other than Dutch, qualifications, having gone to school in the USA, Colombia, Costa Rica, or anywhere else, there are extra conditions imposed in order to obtain that coveted, top notch registration, and that you would be required to travel to the Netherlands, have your qualifications acknowledged, then pass whatever extra courses needed, providing you have sufficient command of the Dutch language, and then, upon completion of all obligations, you may use the title belonging to your medical profession, you may start practicing, and begin your specialist training.

All kids from Aruba who go to med-schools in the region know, before even packing their suitcases, that they will not be able to practice in their homeland, unless, post-graduation, they travel to the Netherlands to comply with the BIG-register demands, at the end of which they may be granted their LB, their permit to work here.

In the past few years we have been hearing gripes about that system. Well-connected kids graduating from regional med-schools as doctors, pharmacists, therapists, etc., whined it wasn’t fair. And that the island must have some kind of Aru-BIG instituted to accommodate those who finished regional schools and wanted to practice their profession here.

Aru-BIG was on the drawing board, for a long time, in order for the island to certify its own healthcare professionals.  On Aug 2nd we were told by the Minister of Health that graduated med students, pharmacists, physiotherapists, etc., could start the application process, here, so they can practice in Aruba. The applications will be vetted in November, and their LB, their green light to start practicing will be signed by the Minister or Health.

A local BIG it is indeed a good idea, in principle, and something developed counties have, such as the National Boards in the USA. We were fortunate to have the NED-BIG, which protected and supported the quality of healthcare here, and we have enjoyed good doctors in Aruba, for decades.

This new development, like everything in Aruba, is very political. It basically means that the Minister of Health has relaxes the certification process, and assured the eternal gratitude of quite a number of locals.

One of my friends, he is a top medical professional. writes: Nothing against the Dutch system, I was educated there and worked there for almost a decade before coming back here. It works there, but it is not the world’s gold standard. Aruba suffers from shortages of medical staff in all areas, specialists, house doctors, nurses and so on. BIG registered staff is not attracted to come here, both Dutch and locals who studied in the Netherlands, are better paid elsewhere and much more respected. We have many young talented Arubans who studied in Latin America and with this law, they can specialize there too. Then come to practice here. That takes years, so there is time to prepare ourselves for them and take the necessary precautions. We need to face reality: Aruba is not always One Happy Island and we depend entirely on the Netherlands, but we can adapt and change, we have to be flexible. There are many good aspects to the AruBig, if we use it wisely.

Another friend offered his two cents: The AruBig is a difficult topic. You can never be right here. Both AVP and MEP wanted to help our local kids who did not study in the Netherlands, but if you are for, you insult the Dutch-trained professionals and if you are against, you are unpatriotic, and you don’t take care of your own kids. At the end it will lower the quality of our healthcare, but the chronic shortages will perhaps be resolved.


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August 21, 2021
Rona Coster