by Dr. Frank Spencer, Spain
Part One: PERSONAL
Working overseas can be a rewarding, enriching, satisfying, horizon-expanding experience if done correctly by the right person with adequate preparation and planning. Doing it successfully depends on your knowledge, your skill, your energy, your wants, goals and objectives, your finances and your determination. You’ll need certain personal attributes to give you the best chances for success. Actually, these requirements are not much different from the requirements for success in many other undertakings.
- Are you in good physical condition? Are your free of physical impairments? (Yes to both parts counts 10 points.)
- Have you lived overseas before? If so, give yourself half a point per year lived overseas with your parents or while in the military. One point per year while on a church mission, with the peace corps or another service organization or a school exchange program. Three points per year if you went overseas on your own to learn a new language or broaden your horizons.
- Do you tire easily when working on your feet? (No counts 1 point.)
- Are you young, vigorous, and enthusiastic about your future in the profession or if not, are you able to hire people to help you get that way and with work along the way, such as painting the office, moving furniture and adjustment tables (Give yourself 1 point for a yes).
- Are you accident-prone or suffer from “montezeuma’s revenge” when dining out more than 1,000 miles from home? (No counts for 3 points.)
- Do you have much free time to work on projects at home? Evenings? Weekends? (Take 10 points if you have at least 20 hours a week free.)
- Do you want to live overseas enough to dedicate most of your leisure time for a year or more to adapt yourself to the new mores and customs you will encounter? (Add 10 points for a yes.)
- Would you also be willing to invest most of your leisure time for a while in order to provide the necessary push to begin building your own practice? (Give yourself 5 points for a yes.)
- Do you have the willpower to make yourself work and study and learn, even when you might rather be doing something else? (5 points if you answered yes.)
- Would you be able to count on help and moral support from your family and friends, even if it¹s only someone who will agree to telephone you once a week or so? (5 points for a yes.)
- Do you speak at least one foreign language? If not, did you pass your language courses in high school? (Yes to either question counts 5 points)
- Would you take pride in building your own office in a culture different from your own and showing it to your family and friends, OR would you be just as happy working for another doctor in an office in your hometown? (2 point if you answered yes to the first part of this question.)
- Do you have a record of successful planning and carrying out of projects in your former jobs, at home or in school? This could be in any field; the important thing is that you carried them through to successful completion. (Add 5 points to your total if your former teachers or supervisors would give you a yes.)
- Do you find it easy to keep busy in your spare time without a boss looking over you or structuring your work? (5 points for this one of you answered yes.)
- Would you and/or your family mind living in a small spare room in the office for a time if it were necessary to save on rent money? (5 points for a yes.)
- Do you have a firm offer of employment from a doctor who has been practicing in the same location for at least 5 years, whose office fits your idea of how you would like to be practicing 5 years from now? (10 points if you answered yes to all parts of this important question.)
- Do you have a good credit rating, and do you have at least $3,000 saved (not credit cards) as a nest egg to tide you over while starting in a new country? (10 points if you answered yes to both parts.)
- Are you currently up to date on your student loan repayments? (10 points if you answered yes to this.)
- Do you have a “clean” police record of nothing more than minor traffic violations? (10 points if you answered yes.)
- While repaying on your loans, will the income in your new position allow you to keep current on your repayments and also survive in the new country during the first year? (5 points if yes.)
This was the most limiting part of the test and you must score high on it to be qualified for the rest. If you are not personally suited to live overseas, no amount of technical or mechanical or professional proficiency will get you through. Add up your score before you go on to the next section.
Score 70 = passing, 80 = good, 90 = excellent, 100 = superior.
The MUST questions are numbers 1,6,7,11, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21. If your total score was 70 or more, you are personally suited to trying to practice overseas. But if you missed on any of the key questions, count living overseas as a high risk for you, at least until you can change answers to the key questions.
Part Two: VISUALIZATION
- Are you a fan of put-together take-apart puzzles such as jigsaw puzzles? Are you good at working mazes? (Give yourself half a point for a yes to each question.)
- Can you imagine and plan how you¹d transport 250 pounds of baggage through airports, train stations and bus depots? (Yes counts 1 point.)
- Do you often try to figure out how certain things are put together and perhaps want to take them apart to find out? (1 point for a yes.)
- Do you know where you want to be and what you want to be doing, both personally and professionally in 2 years? In 5 years? (Award yourself 2 points if you’re clear and focused both personally and professionally 2 years from now, 10 points for both parts if today you know clearly, and have on paper, what you want 5 years from now.)
- Have you already written (if only in school) a clear and concise business plan? (5 points if you, not your roommate, did it.)
- Would you rather do research for a treatise on how a color television works or would you prefer doing a paper on the effectiveness of television commercials? (Add 3 points if you’d choose to figure out how it works.)
- Are you able to communicate with people who might not be able to understand what you are saying on the first, or second or third try and not get yourself angry or frustrated? (3 points if yes.)
People are either USING their powers of visualization or have not yet begun developing them. You may claim all 20 points on this portion of the test if you scored 7 or better, or if you are certain by other indications that you are developing your capacity to visualize your intended future.
Part Three: BUILDING AN OFFICE YOU’LL BE PROUD OF
There is something basic about the process of building a successful practice, no matter where in the world you do it. If done correctly using cues from models that have worked in other cultures, the practice will take shape quickly and provide a structure around which a person can build a most satisfying life. Needed is the ability to look at systems, other success models, and adapt them to your new environment. The techniques can be learned through reading, observing successful doctors already practicing in your old or new country, asking questions, and then trying out what you have learned in your own office.
- Do you have good people skills? Can you converse with paupers and kings, and everyone in between? (5 point for a yes here.)
- Have you cultivated the habit of putting your goals on paper and reviewing them monthly? Weekly? Daily? (Take 1 point, 2 points and 3 points, respectively, for each portion of this important question.)
- If you had a choice, would you rather draw up plans or implement them? (1 point for implementing them.)
- Before arriving in your new location, can you write up a detailed business plan, including how you’ll manage living, learning, and marketing yourself in a different culture for your first 12 months there? (Here’s THAT one again. 3 points only this time.)
- Give yourself half a point for each of these books (listed by title and author) you now own and have read: Word of Mouth Marketing – Wilson, the Advanced Day Planner User’s Guide – Smyth; Time Management- Winwood; Growing a Business- Hawken; The e Myth Revisited- Gerber; Positive Discipline, -Wiwood; Made in America – Walton, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Covey; Maverick – Semler; Principle-Centered Leadership – Covey; Old Times on the Mississippi- Mark Twain; Guerrilla Marketing – Levinson; The Game of Work – Coonradt; Do-it-yourself Marketing for the Professional Practice – Sachs; Physical Examination of the Spine and Extremities – Hoppenfeld; Why Employees Don’t do what they’re Supposed To Do – Fournies; A Patient’s Point of View – Esteb; My Report of Findings – Esteb; the One Minute Manager – Blanchard & Johnson; Parker System of Professional Service for the DC – Parker; How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling – Better; Get Ahead – Buzan; The Mind Map Book – Buzan; [You get the point, so add any other related books.]
- Have you ever been a member of a small or part-time business? (Give yourself 10 points if you were an owner or in an upper management position, three points if you were in the sales or marketing arm of the business.)
- If you were remodeling your office, doing the work yourself, would you tear out a wall you spent several hours building if you discovered it was not right? (Score 3 points if quality won out.)
- Do you know someone you can go to for advice on practice building when you need it? (Add 3 points if the person is a good source of accurate information).
- Are you willing to read, listen and learn about the principles of growing a business? (4 points if you are.)
Add up your score for this section. Score 13 = passing, 20 = good, 27 = excellent, 35 = superior
The important thing to remember is that if your score is low, you should have answered yes to question 36 because you have lots of extra work ahead of you learning about how to start, grow and manage a practice, especially in a foreign country. If you scored excellent or superior, you should have a minimum number of start-up in a new country, which represents a large part of being successful in a any culture.
Scored less than 13 on this section? Better work with someone in your own country who can help you learn skills to be successful at home and overseas.
Part four: MECHANICAL
While similar to practice building, the mechanical aspects of running an office require further knowledge. Team building, management, clerical and motivational are some parts of the work. While not all are needed to live overseas or run an office successfully, they are an indication of your self-reliance and ability to overcome minor difficulties without depending on someone else. All can be learned by reading and asking questions and then doing, but this part of the test will indicate how much you already know. Not many people would be able to successfully answer all the questions, so don¹t worry if you miss some.
- Have you ever tinkered with old clocks or other mechanical contraptions? (1 point if you¹re a good tinkerer.)
- Have you had any luck assembling children¹s toys from instructions? (A Christmas Eve mechanic earns 2 points.)
- Who fixes things at your house when they break? (1 point if it¹s you)
- In today¹s world, the use of a computer is almost indispensable. Give yourself half a point for each program that you now know how to use: Word; Excel; Filemaker Pro; Adobe Printshop or another graphic program.
- Did you play any team sports while in high school or college? (Give yourself 1 point for each year AND each team sport played.)
- Have you ever overhauled an automobile engine, remodeled a kitchen, or done inventory in a store or business? (Give yourself 5 points if you were in charge, 2 points if you helped someone else do it.)
- Have you ever done any electrical wiring around the house? (A yes here is worth 1 point.)
- Have you ever been a teacher or teaching assistant in a school or technical institute? (Give yourself 1 point for a yes.)
- Score half a point for each of these part time jobs you’ve had or activities you’ve done at any time in your life: Caddie at a golf course, paper boy/girl, retail sales clerk, any job in the construction trades, house cleaner, flight attendant, member high school senior play, yearbook staff.
- Are you saddled with any credit card or high-interest consumer debt? Subtract 3 points for every thousand dollars you owe.
Add up your score for this section. Score 13 = passing; 20 = good; 27 = excellent; 35 = superior. Here as in the previous section, if your score is low, you must be willing to learn and adapt. If your score is excellent or superior, you should have no trouble overcoming the challenges you’ll meet working overseas. If you score less than 13 on this section, consider first working a couple of years with someone in your home country.
Tally your individual scores on all four sections of the test and find your overall test results below. In every case you should have gotten a minimum of 70 in the personal section and credit for all 20 points on the visualization section. as described at the end of them.
116 – Barely passing.
Look over your individual scores to see where the weak points are and decide whether:
- You want to have your own office overseas enough to work at improving your ability.
- You’d be better off working on your own in your home country to first develop basic skills.
- It would be best to work as an associate in your home country.
140 – A good score, especially if you maintained a passing grade or better in part 3 building an office and part 4 mechanical aspects.
165 – You are well qualified and need have no hesitation about whether you can work successfully overseas, for yourself or for an employer.
190 – You have mastered yourself and the abilities you’ll need to build your own office in a culture different from your own. You should get a great deal of pleasure from working overseas and it should be relatively easy for you, particularly if you scored high on the personal section.