Monday, November 21, 2022

7 Things You Need to Know About OFW Medical Exams

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Medical exams are a standard requirement for employment, especially for overseas jobs. A visit to the laboratory to check for stool, blood, and urine sample plus other tests is one way to find out whether or not an applicant has a clean bill of health and can perform tasks as demanded by the job.

Why medical exams is a requirement for employment abroad

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A medical exam is a requirement for individuals who are seeking work opportunities abroad. The purpose of the exam is to make sure that the individual is fit to work, and does not have any serious medical illness that can disrupt normal work routine. It also serves as a safeguard for host countries against potentially contagious diseases, and help gauge the worker in working conditions such as in Saudi Arabia’s extreme hot weather.

Just like a police clearance to clear a job applicant from any criminal record and poses no security risk at work, a medical check-up also helps an applicant get medication. This is even if he or she is ruled ineligible for the job — in case abnormal findings are discovered from the test.

Diagnostic results from medical exams will be the basis for an applicant’s admission for employment abroad. The applicant will either receive a medical clearance followed by an approved work permit, a denied medical clearance, which may delay or cancel his work permit, or recommendations to address certain medical issues detected during the exam.

For example, if the applicant has oral health issues, he will be advised to undergo dental treatments before he will be granted a license to work overseas. In some cases, an applicant may be required to undergo certain procedures, such as biopsies, spinal taps, booster vaccinations, or even minor surgery to meet the medical requirements of the host country.

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Usually, a medical exam is among the last to be submitted by a job applicant, and most likely, those who reach this stage get the job. But by no means, is a physical and laboratory check the least important one.

So for those who are not yet familiar with medical exams, how they are being administered, and other things they need to know, note the following:

Who should undergo medical exams

A medical examination undertaken at an authorized medical clinic is a necessary step in applying for an overseas work permit. This generally applies to all overseas job applicants, although certain jobs may require additional tests.

Medical requirements vary from one county to another

Some countries screen for infectious (tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases) or chronic infections (HIV, heart ailment), and others screen for mental illnesses. Candidates with chronic renal failure, hepatitis failure, congestive heart failure, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cancer, psychiatric disease, and a few other diseases are also unfit to work abroad.

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In the Philippines, applicants for jobs in the Middle East, particularly Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, often go to the Gulf Cooperation Council-Accredited Medical Clinics Association. GAMCA provides a list of illnesses that determine if an aspiring OFW is fit for work abroad.

medical exams held at accredited clinics.

What kind of medical tests are performed for overseas jobs?

Medical exams may vary but usually involves any of the following procedures.

  1. Review of medical history
  2. Routine physical exam
    • Height and weight measurement
    • Body mass index
    • Eye exam
    • Hearing test
    • Dental exam
    • Nose and sinus exam
    • Blood pressure test
    • Kidney function tests, such as blood urea nitrogen test or creatinine test
    • Liver function tests, such as total protein, total bilirubin, direct and indirect bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase, albumin levels, and globulin levels, among others
    • Pulmonary function tests or spirometry
    • Pancreatic function tests
    • Lipid tests
    • Treadmill exercise test
    • Ultrasound and x-rays
    • ECG
    • Abdominal echo
    • Fecal and urine tests
    • Blood tests
    • Pregnancy test for women
  3. Psychological testing
  4. Drug and alcohol testing
  5. Infectious disease screening

Exam results undertaken by non-accredited clinics may be invalid and not accepted

Although candidates for jobs are often allowed to undergo medical exams in agencies other than suggested by employment agencies, dealing with those not accredited by government bodies such as POEA or DOH might render results invalid.

Medical exams can take up the whole day.

Devote one whole day for medical exams and defer other appointments to another day. At designated clinics, medical tests for OFW applicants are subject to several criteria, including fecal, blood, and urine, EENT (eye, ear, nose, throat), X-ray screening, and vision tests. Their vital signs, such as pulse, blood pressure, weight, and height, are also recorded. Psychological and physical examinations may vary depending on the clinic.

Laboratory and professional fees may vary depending on the type of tests required but cost at least P2,500 or above. Applicants often shoulder these fees. Since each appointment lasts for the whole day, an applicant is expected to bring samples of stool and urine.

Prior checkups may help get better results.

Sometimes an earlier appointment with a family physician or dentist to assess medical conditions may help get favorable results. That’s because a doctor’s advice based on test results may include dental, skin, or other forms of treatment, which is likely more expensive than outside the network of accredited medical professionals.

It is also possible to get a second or further check. For example, if the initial blood pressure reading is above the allowable level or blood sugar is elevated, another test can be requested. Before this is done, a dosage of medicine may be prescribed. Be aware of prior instructions such as pre-exam fasting and follow them. In such a case for fasting blood sugar (FBS), an applicant needs to fast eight hours before the medical exam procedure takes place.

Exam results are valid for three months.

The results of your medical exam are valid only for three months. Once you obtain the “fit to work” remark, ensure that you’ll be able to fly to your workplace before the validity of this remark expires.

Another round of tests is needed if you defer your job application by at least three months. Sometimes agencies partner with different medical laboratories and do not honor results from non-affiliated medical exam providers. Therefore, be prepared to do so in case you decide to switch to another agency for whatever reason.

Once you receive your medical certificate, be aware that it has a validity of only three months. Some agencies don’t honor the medical tests required by other agencies, so be prepared to retake the same criteria if you apply with another agency.

Significance of exam results to a job offer.

Health checks may come after qualifying interviews, proficiency tests, and submission of requirements, but it nonetheless impacts the employability of a job candidate. Once its results show signs of health conditions considered significant in carrying out the job or the overall well-being of a worker deployed abroad, the job offer may be withdrawn for such reasons. Worse, a worker who is already elsewhere may risk getting deported under the same circumstances.


Whether you are applying for a job abroad or not, maintaining a healthy lifestyle (eating healthy with the right amount of food, exercise, and sleep) is a must. A healthy worker is a productive worker.

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