A Letter from Värmland, Sweden – Review of a Radiology Engineer

13. October 2023.

Have you heard of Värmland? This western Swedish region is known for its stunning nature, a special sheep breed, and a high standard compared to other regions in the country. Spomenko Lončar, a radiology engineer, has sent us his review from there.

Arvika u Švedskoj
Arvika in Sweden

“The reason why we left Croatia is already well-known, so I won’t repeat it. Simply put, hoping for a better tomorrow no longer made sense,” says Spomenko. He and his wife first moved to Great Britain, lived there for four years, and eventually ended up in Scandinavia.

Incor sent us an inquiry about a job in Sweden, and we were intrigued. This is where our adventure began.” Today, Spomenko is employed as a medical radiology engineer, while his wife works as a nurse in Arvika – a small town about 100 kilometers west of Karlstad, the capital of the Värmland region.

Here’s what an average workday looks like in the hospitals there.

A Workday in Sweden

“My workday starts at 7.15 a.m. with a short meeting, after which I go to my workplace for the day – CT, MRI, or something else. The list of patients with appointments is on my computer,” says Spomenko.

The first fika or breakfast takes place at 9 a.m., and it lasts approximately 20 minutes. “I return to my workplace and deal with patients until 11:30 a.m. when the lunch break begins. It ends at 12:30, and from then until 14:30 I deal with patients. Then we have a second coffee break and review our workday with colleagues. The working day ends at 16:30.”

Overview of Spomenko’s average working day:

  • 7:15: Brief meeting
  • ~7:30: Patient work
  • 9:00: First fika/breakfast
  • ~9:20: Patient work
  • 11:30: Lunch break
  • 12:30: Patient work
  • 14:30: Coffee break and summary of the day
  • 16:30 End of the working day

The fika pause, or coffee break, still fascinates me, and I still can’t get used to it,” says Spomenko. Fika was born out of the Swedes’ appreciation for the caffeinated beverage. “You shouldn’t be surprised if you have 2-3 coffee breaks during your shift.”

Spomenko also says he enjoys working with patients because they have a lot of respect for health workers, among other things. “I have yet to encounter a patient who complained about waiting for 10 or 15 minutes.”

Before moving on to other details about Spomenko’s life in Sweden, let’s go back to the actual relocation process. This is what it looked like for Spomenko and his wife.

Moving to Sweden

“The move was painless,” says Spomenko. “The apartment was waiting for us already rented since the entire process of moving, finding an apartment, a school, and everything else is managed by Incor.” 

Spomenko and his wife only had to devote themselves to learning the Swedish language, and an intensive nine-month course helped them do this. “Together with the hospital grant, the course gives you enough space to focus solely on the language.”

When they finished their course, all that was left to do was to enjoy life in Sweden. It is, according to Spomenko, quite different from what he was used to in Croatia.

Sweden vs. Croatia

Sweden and Croatia primarily differ in working conditions. “Working conditions in Sweden and Croatia are incomparable,” says Spomenko, just like many of his colleagues who moved from Croatia to Sweden. 

“From the way they organize the work and standardize work processes to equipment… it is simply a different world.”

Employers want employees to feel valued at work and have a private, social life, too. That’s why, for example, the number of days off quickly gets adjusted to the employee’s shifts. “If you happen to work more hours this week, you can rest assured you’ll get more days off the next. If you work overtime, you can choose between paid hours and days off.”

Besides workers, employers also respect the Labor Law, which they adhere to down to the smallest detail. “Everything is done according to the law,” says Spomenko, “annual vacation, days off, overtime hours if any… everything.”

Znanstvenica u laboratoriju
Employee satisfaction is a high priority for the Swedish system.

Beyond that, Spomenko believes that the Swedes differ from the Croats in how they approach problems. “It’s not like you won’t have any problems with colleagues or something else, but these problems will be solved in a way that satisfies you, at least partially.”

A downfall of the Swedish healthcare system is the chronic lack of staff. On a positive note, though, you can always take more hours if you want to, emphasizes Spomenko. 

“However, I have to say that Croatian healthcare workers are more educated than their Swedish colleagues. The reason for that is a narrow and specialized education for a specific job you’ll do, unlike Croatia where you get a more general knowledge.”

Since Spomenko lived in Great Britain before Sweden, he can compare these two systems as well. “Great Britain requires quantity. There’s a fast and big fluctuation of patients, so you sometimes feel as if you were hit by a truck after your shift. Honestly, you’re not getting adequate pay for that amount of work,” says Spomenko. However, the situation in Great Britain is still not as bad as in Croatia. “Croatia, on the other hand, pays even less while requiring more work hours.”

A Few Remarks on the Swedes

 

Švedsko ribarsko selo
Sweden puts a lot of emphasis on equality.

Spomenko thinks there’s a misconception in Croatia about what the Swedes are really like. “We tend to think that the Swedes are cold and unapproachable,” says Spomenko, “however, they actually really like to help.”

If you ask them to help you with something, you’ll feel like they’re grateful for even asking. Apart from that, they’re very liberal and have a lot of national pride. “For now, my impression is that they don’t tolerate injustice in any form and in any segment of society.”

Advice for Colleagues

What’s your advice for colleagues who may be considering finding a new beginning in Sweden? Spomenko says one should be careful about making that decision, so he doesn’t want to give too much advice. “That’s a big life decision. It’s not easy to move to another country and leave your homeland behind,” admits Spomenko. “We moved twice and don’t intend to do it again.”

However, what he can say is that Sweden is definitely a good choice for relocation. “Sweden isn’t a land of milk and honey, it has its own problems. Still, it cares about the people who live and work here, appreciates them, and invests in them. So, if you’re already thinking about moving, my recommendation definitely goes to Sweden,” concludes Spomenko.

Spomenko is one of many healthcare professionals whom we helped achieve their dreams abroad. Find more reviews from our candidates here!

 

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