General practitioners

General practitioner (GP), or family doctor is a physician specialised in 'General Practice'. This physician* doesn’t work in a hospital but in "primary health care" and may also carry out home visits. As a rule, they are the first contact for anyone faced with a health issue, in the broadest sense of the term. They keep an overview of patients' general state of health over an extended period of time and act as coordinators of their patients' healthcare needs.

Ninety per cent of the problems patients visit their GP about are resolved by GPs themselves. The remaining ten per cent are referred to another specialist physician* or healthcare provider.

Physicians in Belgium are authorised to practise medicine if their diploma has been stamped by the competent authorities and if they are registered on the list of the Order of Physicians.

For further information and the legislation governing this profession, please click here 

Specialist physicians
A patient is usually seen by a specialist physician by appointment. An appointment can be obtained either following a referral from their GP or an individual healthcare provider or by establishing a direct contact. Specialist physicians may conduct services in both their own private practice or in the recognised healthcare institution where they‘re contracted to. Specialist physicians don’t carry out home visits.

Specific laws lay down the special recognition criteria for specialist physicians, traineeship supervisors and traineeships in the various specialties (link here).

The recognition of any medical specialty is ratified by Royal Decree and then published in the Belgian Official Gazette (Belgisch Staatsblad). In Belgium, physicians who qualified in a specific recognised medical specialty bear the title of medical specialist in the specialty in question.

Specialties recognised in Belgium:
Anaesthesia - Occupational medicine - Cardiology - Dermato-Venereology - Endocrino-Diabetology - Functional and professional rehabilitation of disabled persons - Physical medicine - Gastroenterology - Geriatrics - Gynaecology and Obstetrics - Surgery - Intensive care - Internal medicine - Clinical biology - Oro-maxillo-facial surgery - Nephrology - Neurosurgery - Neurology - Neuropsychiatry - Nuclear medicine - In vitro nuclear medicine - Ophthalmology - Orthopaedics - Otolaryngology - Pathological anatomy - Paediatrics - Paediatric neurology - Plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery - Pneumology - Psychiatry - Radiotherapy-Oncology - Rheumatology - Rehabilitation - X-ray diagnosis - Stomatology - Emergency medicine - Urology.

For further information about the legislation governing these professions, please click here.


Dentists

A dentist is someone who has obtained a degree in dentistry and is authorised to practise this profession in all its aspects. General dentists follow a 5-year Masters’ programme at university and complete their studies with a one-year traineeship.

Specialist dentists
In Belgium, dentists who have obtained a Masters’ in Dentistry can specialise as an orthodontist or as a periodontist. The recognition requirements and procedure for these specialties came into effect in 2001.

An orthodontist (also known as a braces dentist) is a dental specialist in Orthodontics. Orthodontists study the shape, growth and development of the teeth and jaws and optimise the position of the teeth and jaws by means of braces (orthodontic braces). Orthodontists have to complete a four-year training programme which can only be followed at a university.

Periodontology is a recognised specialty within dentistry which focuses on the supporting structures of the teeth and molars: the jawbone, the gums and the periodontal ligament.
People who have obtained their Masters’ in Dentistry need to successfully complete a three-year specialisation programme if they wish to practise as a dentist-periodontist. Anyone wishing to specialise as a jaw surgeon, will need to have obtained both a degree in Medicine and in Dentistry.

For further information about the legislation governing these professions, please click here.


Pharmacists

A pharmacist is an expert in the field of medicinal products. In Belgium pharmacists are the only professionals authorised to sell any kind of non-refundable medication, to dispense medication on prescription or prescription drugs on the name of the patient in a regulated pharmacy. The location and the sale of medication are strictly regulated. A pharmacist's diploma must have been stamped by the Provincial Medical Commission of the province of work where he is authorised to practise his profession. Pharmacists must also be registered on the list of the competent Order of Pharmacists.

The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) is tasked with the recognition of pharmacists.

Hospital pharmacists
A hospital pharmacist is a pharmacist who has followed a specialised training programme to be recognised as a hospital pharmacist. He/she is authorised to only deliver medication, all kind of devices or substances for diagnostic purposes prescribed by the patient’s doctor and this during patient’s stay in the hospital. Hospital pharmacists do not have any contact with patients directly.

The FPS Health recognises and registers only the hospital pharmacists.

For further information about the legislation governing this profession, please click here.


Nurses

A nurse is a person who has been trained to carry out nursing tasks. Nurses have successfully completed a three-year advanced vocational training course or a Bachelors’ programme Nursing. Nursing diplomas are stamped by the FPS Health.

Nursing entails carrying out the following activities: observing, recognising and recording a patient's health status from a psychological, physical and social point of view; describing any nursing problems; contributing to the medical diagnosis by the physician and providing the prescribed treatment; informing and advising patients and their families; continuously assisting with, performing and helping to perform tasks geared towards maintaining, improving and restoring the health of the healthy and sick individuals and groups; offering end-of-life care and support during the mourning process”.

In healthcare facilities, nurses usually form part of a multidisciplinary* team. They perform certain tasks under the authority of the physician or assist him/her.
Nurses working in primary healthcare are usually self-employed or form part of a group practice. They’ll mainly provide all the necessary nursing care at the patients’ home as prescribed by patients' physician.

There is an extensive list of the specific nursing tasks and acts attributed to the nurse related to their respective qualification.

The general trend towards specialisation within nursing translates into a list of “particular professional titles” attributed to nurses who completed successfully a one-year training course (Banaba) in a well-defined specific nursing domain on top of the Bachelors’ diploma in nursing. Specific requirements regarding the training, the continuous learning, the final competencies and acquainted responsibilities for each professional title are laid down by law. Nurses accredited with a specific professional title* are entitled to carry out autonomously specific medically delegated tasks from an endorsed list of acts.

The FPS Health registers and delivers the specific ‘professional title’ at individual level.

For further information about the legislation governing this profession, please click hier.


Nursing auxiliaries

A nursing auxiliary has successfully completed a specific training at a secondary school ( <18y) or completed an additional specific vocational training that entitles him or her to register as a nursing assistant and apply for recognition to the FPS Health.

Nursing auxiliaries are employed in hospitals, rest and nursing homes or in primary care setting for basic home care where they carry out hygienic oriented tasks under the supervision of a registered nurse. There is an extensive list of specific care tasks nursing auxiliaries are allowed to perform under supervision or otherwise. They are not permitted to dress open wounds or give injections.
The tasks of nursing assistants mainly consist of following up and assisting patients with their personal hygiene, eating and drinking, the administration of oral medication and the general follow-up of patients.
For further information about the legislation governing this profession, please click here.


Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists treat complaints with regard to the movement and function of patients' bodies on the basis of a medical prescription from their physician. They are entitled to adjust the prescription to the patient's condition but are obliged to inform the treating physician accordingly.
Physiotherapists are recognised by the FPS Health once they have successfully completed a specific four-year university or higher education programme in Physiotherapy.

For further information about the legislation governing this profession, please click here.


Midwives

A midwife (a term used for both men and women) takes care of the woman with a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy and childbirth. She is accountable for and competent to practice in autonomy that part of medicine that relates to ‘physiological’ or ‘normal’ obstetrics.
Midwives follow up women with normal pregnancies, carry out physiological or normal deliveries, offer support to the mother and her new-born with breastfeeding and carry out post-partum care. They refer pregnant women at risk or with complications to a gynaecologist.

The staff working in maternity and delivery room are nearly all recognised midwives. Midwives employed in hospitals are also entitled to work in neonatal care, gynaecology, infertility services. They also do consultations where they work in close cooperation with the doctor-specialist.
The independent midwife provides support and care including home delivery to the woman and the new-born at client’s home, birthing home or in a private consultation room. She is entitled to accompany the woman during labour and delivery in the hospital.

The diploma of bachelor in midwifery is required for recognition and registration.

For further information about the legislation governing this profession, please click here.


Paramedics

A paramedic is a professional who provides diagnostic and/or therapeutic services or technical assistance at the request of a physician. These services are profession-specific and defined by law. They can only be furnished by recognised practitioners who are qualified in the relevant field.
Most of the recognised paramedics can work as an independent or as an employee in a health care institution.
The registration and recognition criteria providing the license to practise are legally defined for each paramedical profession. The FPS Health registers each paramedical and deliver the license to practice individually.
The required educational level for paramedical professions ranges from a certificate of a specific technical education program delivered by a secondary school (The paramedical professions recognised in Belgium or for which a recognition procedure is currently being developed are:

  • Technical pharmaceutical assistant

The technical pharmaceutical assistant carries out the tasks defined by law under the responsibility and permanent supervision of the pharmacist. The profession has been recognised since 2010 and requires a specific diploma of higher technical education delivered from a secondary school(

  • Dieticians

Dieticians are experts in food and illness-specific nutrition. On doctor's orders, they provide patients with tailored nutritional or dietary advice. By treating specific eating habits (diet), dieticians can enhance patients' physical health. The diploma of a specific professional Bachelor or a Masters’ degree is a requirement for registration and recognition.

  • Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists focus on re-developing skills in people who were left with a physical or psychological disorder as a result of an illness or disability. Occupational therapy is a holistic form of therapy as it takes the person, his/her environment and activity into consideration. Occupational therapists offer a client-centred service, promoting functional skills that can help their clients conquer the main obstacles in their daily lives. They focus on maximising their clients' independence, productivity, mobility, ability to cope at home and engage in leisure activities. The registered occupational therapist has obtained a diploma of a specific professional Bachelor.

  • Speech-language pathologists

Speech-language pathologists, informally known as speech therapists, specialise in prevention, care, training and advice with regard to patients' upper aerodigestive functions (sucking, swallowing and chewing), hearing, voice, language and speech. Speech-language pathologists focus on patients' communicative skills (the comprehension and reproduction of spoken and written language but also augmentative and alternative communication) and on the various distinct stages of the eating and drinking process. The speech therapist has obtained the diploma of the specific professional Bachelor or a Masters’ degree.

  • Audiologists and hearing-aid specialists

Audiologists specialise in the prevention, detection and investigation of hearing disorders and in fitting patients with aids to correct their hearing impairment. They also deal with the psychological and psychosocial aspects of hearing loss. As a person's ability to hear and speak is very much interlinked, audiologists will work in close collaboration with a speech-language pathologist and an ENT physician (Ear, Nose, and Throat). The recognised audiologist has at least obtained a professional Bachelors’ diploma or a Masters’ degree.
Hearing-aid specialists qualified in a specific postgraduate training course. They mainly work in commercial shops or laboratories for hearing aids. They are trained to advise people on hearing aids and to fit, adjust and sell them.

  • Orthoptists

Orthoptists are eye care professionals who specialise in the diagnosis and management of a specific range of eye conditions. Orthoptists fulfil an independent specific role in the eye care sector, alongside ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians, and contact-lens specialists. The recognised orthoptist has obtained a specific professional Bachelors’ diploma.

  • Prosthetists

Prosthetists are specialised in the production and fitting of prostheses. Prostheses include any type of artificial body part used by people suffering from congenital limb deficiency or by people who have had a limb amputated. Prosthetists can provide patients with a lower-leg prosthesis, an upper-arm prosthesis, etc. and also design and adjust orthopaedic shoes and orthopaedic soles. The diploma of a specific professional Bachelor is a requirement for registration and recognition.

  • Bandagists (surgical truss makers) and Orthotists

Both practitioners are already qualified as healthcare providers and are entitled to register the additional title as bandagist or orthotist if they respond to the legal recognition criteria.

  • Bandagists specialise in the production, adjustment and selling of surgical trusses to support the body and of aids to further rehabilitation, promote people's mobility and ability to move around so as to enhance the quality of their daily lives, e.g.: surgical trusses, surgical belts, wheelchairs, walking aids or orthopaedic tricycles, and also systems that allow patients to stand...


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  • Orthotists specialise in the production and adjustment of orthoses. Orthoses are designed to meet the biomechanical needs of patients. They are orthopaedic devices that provide stability or correction to a limb or the spine so as to support, immobilise, correct or relieve weight-bearing forces. Some examples include: knee braces, back orthoses, wrist orthoses, thumb orthoses....

 

  • Technologist in medical laboratory techniques

Technologist in medical laboratory techniques works in hospitals and clinical laboratories under the responsibility of a doctor in biology. They test and analyse biochemical substances from the human body or detect the presence of infectious agencies. They are entitled to take samples from the patient if requested.

 

  • Podiatrists

Podiatrists specialise in the medical care and treatment of the human foot and/or complaints caused by the abnormal functioning of the human foot/feet, abnormal foot posture and/or abnormal gait by means of corrective and/or protective techniques, such as orthoses, shoe and sole corrections and also offer patients advice. They mainly treat complaints about pain and/or discomfort in the feet, ankles, knees, hips and/or back. Podiatrists offer preventative advice and also treat abnormal toe postures and (serious) skin and nail conditions that cannot be treated by means of a (medical) pedicure.
The diploma of a specific professional Bachelor is a requirement for registration and recognition.

 

  • Medical imaging technologist

Medical imaging technologists operate the prescribed medical equipment under the supervision of a physician-radiologist in the unit of medical imaging. They assist with diagnoses (medical imaging, functional MRI), the treatment of patients (radiotherapy) and patient care with due regard for patients' safety and well-being.
The diploma of a specific professional Bachelor is a requirement for registration and recognition.

 

  • Patient transport service (PTS) drivers (no emergency transport)

Independent of prior training and education, they have followed an accredited basic training course (certificate) that meets the standards and legislation governing the transport of patients between home and a healthcare facility or between two healthcare facilities (except the patients referred to in article 1 of the law of 8 July 1964 concerning Emergency Medical Care).

For further information about the legislation governing these professions, please click here.


 

* see Glossary