Serving Hope: A Venezuelan Doctor Finds Sanctuary in Peru  


“The opportunity to serve as a doctor feels like nothing short of a miracle,” said Jesus, a Venezuelan traumatologist.   


The turmoil his country has been facing, however, prevented him from thriving in his chosen profession. When Jesus learned that he was going to become a father, he immediately began planning to make his dream for a stable future become reality – in nearby Peru.  


Peru has the second-largest population of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the region, hosting 1.5 million of the 7.7 million Venezuelans who have left the country in recent years due to the country’s ongoing social and economic crisis.   


Many qualified professionals, including nurses, physical therapists, and physicians, although having highly sought-after skills have occasionally faced administrative barriers that have made it difficult for them to practice in their host country.   


That was the case for Jesus who arrived in Tacna, a bustling border town between Peru and Chile, in 2018. When Jesus arrived, he was unable to validate his medical license, a time-consuming and expensive process that can take up to a year and a half to complete. Undeterred, he worked a variety of side jobs to save up enough money to complete the validation process.  


The International Organization for Migration (IOM) helps migrants to integrate into their new surroundings, including by providing support to validate professional degrees. Jesus received such assistance from IOM and is now happily employed in a private clinic in Tacna.    

   A Venezuelan doctor points to an x-ray in a medical office where two patients are looking

Photo: IOM/Gema Cortes


“What I make here enables me to live a far better life than in Venezuela,” he said.   


The clinic has turned into a cultural melting pot, with many Venezuelan doctors treating both Peruvians and Chileans. The collaboration between Venezuelan and Peruvian doctors here exemplifies camaraderie across cultures.    


Jesus considers himself lucky to have finally found a place where he can freely practice medicine and thrive.   


“To me, this is like a dream come true. We, the doctors, bring a lot of knowledge to this country.”   


His melodic Venezuelan accent, a reminder of his roots, comforts his patients, even amidst discussions of surgeries and difficult treatments.   


As Jesus reflects on his journey, he acknowledges that his homeland will always have his heart.  


“I left Venezuela, but I did not forget it. However, working in this clinic allows me to do what I have spent my entire life dreaming about doing, surrounded by a group of extraordinary professionals.”    


A Venezuelan doctor stands with his arms crossed in front of a hospital sign

Photo: IOM/Gema Cortes