Our doctors share their experiences
Mercedes and Jorge
An ophthalmologist and a paediatrician from Spain
working in Sweden
ORGE AND MERCEDES went from Spain to Sweden in February 2013 and took with them their daughter Silvia, who is now just over two years old. Both are doctors - Jorge is a paediatrician and Mercedes is an ophthalmologist. They completed their language training at MediCarrera’s centre in Calafell, just south of Barcelona and now live in a villa in Eskilstuna.
Both Jorge and Mercedes consider that it’s very important to follow the intensive course in Swedish. This has made it possible for them to get integrated quickly both in the workplace and in society. When we spoke with them they had been in Sweden for five months and spoke fluent Swedish. “You talk quite a lot every day”, Jorge says. “The daily training is important in order to be able to get to grips with the language. When we go to lectures, for example, we understand about 90%. Especially during the beginning at the hospital we found that it was of great help having studied Swedish for the health sector during the course. But keeping up conversations around other topics than medicine is still a bit harder.”
It has been a great help for the family that MediCarrera has helped them with all the practical details surrounding the move, for example finding a place to live, signing up for day-care, organising paperwork and other things. It’s a lot of work and, since the language training is so intensive, it would have been difficult to handle all this ourselves. “The staff at MediCarrera really did all they could to help us, solving the problems that arose”, Jorge tells us. “Even though we were a bit nervous and there was quite a bit of waiting since there were many people in our course, they fixed everything very well.”
The first proper contact with MediCarrera was the interview trip to Sweden. The couple brought with them their daughter, who at the time was nine months old. “The trip was very well organised”, Jorge tells us. “We had our young daughter with us and at some moments we needed help in fixing something specific. MediCarrera was there for us in a good way and made sure everything worked out for us.”
Intensive language training
They are both happy with the language course. It was a surprise to them that the course was so intensive. They hadn’t quite expected that. “We hadn’t really familiarized ourselves with what the training really entailed. You go to class all day and then have several hours of home study every day. It was demanding for us since we’re not used to studying”, Jorge laughs.
When the parents went to class, little Silvia went to day-care. This was decisive in order for Jorge and Mercedes to be able to complete their training. The day-care was a nice experience for Silvia. The staff took good care of the children, and Silvia still remembers them and also some of her friends.
In February they started work at the hospital. During the first week they introduced Silvia to her day-care centre. It went well and she was happy. Their own introduction at the hospital also went well. They experienced no pressure to start producing results right away, but were able to take their time to adapt. The introduction was well organised and it was easy to tell that the people at the hospital were used to receiving foreign doctors. To start with they worked with a supervisor and after approximately one month Mercedes received her first patients. In the beginning, Mercedes had only two patients per day, though later this was increased. For some time now, she’s been working as much as her colleagues. She was able to decide herself at which rhythm she wanted to increase her work, something she thought felt good. Jorge was at different wards and in the beginning worked side by side with another doctor. After two months he had his first patient of his “own” and also started working shifts. After three months he worked his first night-shift. “I feel that things are good at work now”, Mercedes says, “even though it’s still hard to get into the administrative routines. But the work keeps getting easier and I no longer have to think constantly about how to do things. It’s also become easier to make friends and becoming a part of the social life.”
More time for the patient
They think there are some important differences between working as a doctor in Spain and in Sweden. Jorge sees the same illnesses in both countries, while Mercedes notices some variations within her speciality. The main difference lies, however, in the fact that in Sweden you have much more time for talking to the patient. Another difference is that the level of training among nurses and secretaries is a lot higher in Sweden. Here, each person handles his or her job in a knowledgeable and responsible way and this makes it possible for the doctor to focus on the main activity. Mercedes notices that she has more administrative tasks in Sweden than in Spain, since the doctors in Sweden also issue certificates for the Swedish social security entity ‘Försäkringskassan’ and write more prescriptions.
Both Jorge and Mercedes have a positive outlook on their career development in Sweden. Both can work in their sub-specialities and they can see that they receive support from their superiors for pursuing further training and being able to continue developing in the direction they want. “Today I’ve talked to my boss and we have planned what I’ll be working with during the next six months and even my development for the next two years”, Jorge tells us. “This makes me feel positive and see a bright future.”
Beside the fact that the move to Sweden has proved an improvement in their work situation, they also feel that Silvia’s future looks brighter here than in Spain. Mercedes sees it as a great advantage that Sweden is such a child friendly country. Day to day life becomes simpler since it’s not a problem if you have to stay at home because the child is sick or has to go to the doctor.
The family arrived in Sweden in the middle of winter when everything was covered in a thick layer of snow. It was obviously a huge change, but they feel that it’s easier to adapt since you have more days off in Sweden and can spread out your holidays and even travel during the winter. The early part of their time in Sweden was also hard since there was so much to adapt to. Jorge recommends other doctors facing the same challenge give it time and a solid dose of optimism. Let the adaptation take as long as you need and get through the first phase calmly, because it soon gets a lot better!