A clear vision of life in Sweden from the perspective of Antonela, a medical laboratory diagnostics engineer

31. January 2023.

Openness to new opportunities is visible in various ways, so it is sometimes motivated by a better offer, a more interesting position or a desire for something new. But what separates us from realizing the vision of a better life, which, like our interlocutor Dr. Antonela Slišković, we strive to achieve, is taking the risk to take that step. In this review, find out how the journey to moving to Sweden went and what the working day of a senior laboratory technician in medical-laboratory diagnostics looks like.

Review of Antonela, Medical Laboratory Diagnostics Engineer in Sweden

Antonela’s desire to move to Scandinavia has always existed, but various life situations led her to postpone that decision. The desire did not subside, so the search for better opportunities began. The chosen country was Denmark, and a license was even obtained, but the relocation plan failed due to the impossibility of finding a Danish language course in Croatia. As it often happens in life, when one door closes, new opportunities open up. That new opportunity was the news about the health careers fair in Zagreb, where she first met Zrinka, the owner of the company Incor, to whom she told her about her desire to work in Scandinavia and the difficulties she encountered. And it was that meeting that led her to her first job offer in Sweden. “I purposefully went to Zagreb to meet Zrinka and introduce myself to her. I sat in front of her and started talking, even though I knew that Zrinka and her company “Incor” work mainly with doctors. She listened to all this carefully and calmly. Zrinka did for me what no one else did: she brought me a tender from Sweden.”

Taking such a big step in her career had to be approved by the people dearest to her – her husband and children, and from them she received full support for a new beginning. “My family was my biggest supporter. We’ve been planning this for a while. The children were extremely happy, and so was the husband.” – says Antonela and continues: “The moving process itself went without any problems and she is satisfied with the organization, as well as the moral support during the journey. Everything was quite well organized. You have a paid plane ticket, and all your things arrive by truck at the exact moment you land at your destination. No waiting. The hospital pays all the costs of your move. And Zrinka… Zrinka is there to calm your nervousness at any moment and send a word of support.”

She saw the difference in Swedish culture immediately after her arrival, so she says, “Although I just moved to Sweden, I can notice how the Swedes have everything organized. That suits me. Even though I’m a foreigner, I don’t feel that way. The working conditions are excellent.” It also confirms the experiences with the education of all previous candidates, which is not only encouraged, but also fully expected of the healthcare worker to further educate himself. “In Croatia, it was not right to ask your boss to send you for additional training. Here it is normal and desirable.”

The main differences in performing diagnostics

In Sweden, it is done with continuous double or triple control, which is the main difference compared to the Croatian health system. In addition to training, Antonela is surrounded by a multinational team that is constantly improving, collaborating and sharing knowledge so that a lot of information about new methods and technologies can be heard in the laboratory itself. “I am constantly reading, researching and educating myself about new and improved ways of working. I work in a multinational team, which is very good. You can learn something new from everyone. The work is done with triple control, which is the main difference between work in Croatia and Sweden. Not here: someone else will finish what I start. Everything is completed on time and must be checked. People are more responsible in what they do. Everything is better organized. Colleagues are ready to help you and show you everything.”

For her, the Swedes are just a little more moderate in their way of life, which she sees as an advantage. There is no yelling, overvoting and arguing, but everything is resolved in a calm tone. “I don’t see any disadvantages at the moment, except that the Swedes are a little reserved, a little colder. Maybe not colder, but more moderate. I have more free time, there is no judgment, no subterfuge, no false authorities, ethical principles are respected. No raised tones, insults. We talk to each other, we respect other people’s ideas. A lot of attention is paid to safety in the workplace. It was not like that in Croatia.” And the climate is not a problem for her, nor is it as cold as she worried it would be. “As I live and work in central Sweden, the climate is a little colder, the winter a little hotter. Don’t listen to stories about how it’s terribly cold here, how you can’t see the sun, how it’s always dark. That is not so.

Things are much brighter, and life is more pleasant and better.”

Working day of a senior laboratory technician in medical laboratory diagnostics

“I start working at 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. After that, there are Swedish language lessons. I continue with Swedish language lessons from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Namely, in order to be able to work in the laboratory at the Swedish Hospital, you need to have a C1 level of the Swedish language. C1 level is required to obtain a license. I am currently working as a laboratory assistant. When I get my license, I will do my job as a senior laboratory assistant. Of course, the working hours will also be different then.” – work in Sweden and Croatia differs in many aspects, and for our interlocutor, each of them has an advantage in the Swedish healthcare system.

In the department where Antonela collaborates with other colleagues, tasks are carried out according to a coordinated rhythm that leaves no unfinished tasks. “I work at the Department of Transfusion Medicine and Clinical Chemistry. There, I am currently working on devices that I did not have the opportunity to work on in Croatia. In the morning when I arrive at the workplace, I disinfect all surfaces, start the computers, prepare reagents for device calibration, perform controls on the devices. After that, I review all the daily, weekly and monthly protocols. I control the measurements of samples of blood, urine and other body fluids. After that, I check whether all searches have been done correctly. You leave nothing undone. I always take notes and use a variety of tools to help me stay on top of everything every day.”

And in addition, the support of colleagues is continuous and respectful, so all doubts are resolved through conversation, explains Antonela. “We have a meeting once every two weeks. The meeting was divided into two periods. It shows how well organized people are and how important it is that everyone working in the lab can attend the meeting without the work in the lab suffering.”

Since moving to Sweden, Antonela has spoken to many people who have asked her for advice or information, and the advice is to research, get informed and get going. “The very beginning of the job application, waiting for the results, conducting the interview… that’s the hardest part. If you are satisfied, you go to visit the hospital to see if it is acceptable to you. Afterwards, the final decision is made, both by the hospital and by you. Zrinka and her company Incor helped me a lot along the way with all the advice and support.” In the end, she shared a piece of advice that applies to everyone who is thinking about moving to Scandinavia: “Those of you who decide to do all this, all you need is the will.” Nothing else. You need to know what you want and go for it. You won’t regret it…that’s for sure.”

Read more reviews from other candidates here!

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