Candidate overview – How nurses and technicians work in Sweden

24. February 2023.

In today’s review, we present a review of two candidates who went through the process of looking for a new job, moving and starting work in distant Sweden. Find out what life is like for nurses/technicians in Sweden and how different the working environment is in the review.

Sonja Škrinjarić, nurse

For our interlocutor Sonja, going to Sweden together with her family was motivated by the orderly Scandinavian way of life, the school and health system, and a stable and good standard of living. “Personally, because of my profession, I was attracted to continuous education and advancement through work. My family and I were also attracted to Sweden as a country to live in because of its multiculturalism. It’s really special to meet, get to know and work with people from every corner of the world.” There was no lack of support from friends and family, especially today, when distances are easier to cover.

Sonja completed the moving process in May 2018 with her husband and children. Before moving, they studied Swedish intensively, passed all exams and prepared documentation. They learned Swedish with the help of Zrinka Stanić from Osijek (INCOR), and initially through the Rosetta Stone platform. During the period of language learning, she received an invitation for her first job interview, where she met her future bosses and work colleagues, the hospital and the city where she currently lives with her family. Already a week after the move, the children started regular school, and the husband was looking for a job.

The working conditions in Sweden and Croatia differ in many segments, and he describes Sonja in Sweden as favorable and adapted to the employees. “The rights of workers are respected, and all questions regarding changes related to working hours, wages or difficulties at work are consulted with HR (Human Resources) in order to protect the employee.” In addition, he explains to us, there are various opportunities for employment. “The good side for people who want to do several different jobs or don’t want to be tied down by permanent employment is that there are four different types of employment, namely fixed and indefinite work, substitutes (“vicaries”) for permanent workers who are currently absent due to temporary interruption of work (“tjänstledighet”) and sick leave, and the fourth type is hourly employment (“timvikarie”).”

If you want to earn more, you have the option of finding additional work. “One of the possibilities for additional work is that in some professions there are special companies that have registered workers with different competencies and, if necessary, for example schools, kindergartens, preschools, hospitals, homes for the elderly, or home care, reserve employees for all the missing shifts on a certain day. There is also the possibility of summer work in most institutions, companies and factories. It is especially suitable for children aged 15 and above, adults and elderly people who are retired.”

The main differences in the work of a nurse/technician

Our interlocutor sees the biggest difference in the degree of trust and responsibility she has in Sweden, and in addition, the auxiliary nurses make the job even easier. “The differences that I have personally seen in the work of nurses/technicians in Sweden versus Croatia is that many medical procedures and examinations performed by nurses/technicians are authorized by doctors. Through work experience, greater responsibilities and independence are gained in the work with some procedures that, for example, in Croatia, are still performed by doctors. The work of a nurse/technician in Sweden is facilitated by auxiliary nurses (“undersköterskor”) in every department, in every clinic and in every medical team, and in homes for the elderly, homes for people with special needs and home care. Nursing assistants are licensed for their work and the possibilities for further specialization are very large, this means that they are the right hand of the nurse/technicians, and of course the whole team.”

The working conditions themselves are better in Sweden because a larger number of employees are employed according to the number of patients, so a nurse or technician has more time to devote to each individual patient. “One of the new opportunities in Sweden in recent years for nurses/technicians is the possibility of employment in companies that specialize in the employment of nurses/technicians throughout Sweden in hospitals and health centers. An employee can choose for himself whether he wants to be employed by a company or open his own business. Specialized companies are looking for a position according to the conditions of the employee and contract jobs for a certain working time in the whole of Sweden. In this way, nurses and technicians can decide for themselves how much they want to work in a year, how much vacation they want to have and where they want to work in Sweden.” Sonja does not find any shortcomings in the work of nurses/technicians that she could compare with the work in Croatia.

And what does a working day look like?

Sonja is employed at the county hospital Nyköpings Lasarett in Nyköping. Her first job in the hospital was in the Acute Stroke Department where she spent two years, and then started working in the Neurological Outpatient Clinic, which belongs to the Internal Medicine Clinic. He has been there for two years. “The internal clinic in the hospital where I work is divided into two Internal Departments, one Internal Semi-Intensive Department, the Dialysis Department and the Clinic for Kidney Diseases, the Internal Department for Day Therapy and seven internal clinics (Diabetes, COPD and Asthma, Heart and Vascular System, Endocrinology, Neuro, Intestinal diseases, Hematology) which are independently managed by nurses/technicians, and the Outpatient Clinic for auxiliary nurses/technicians who assist doctors during visits and examinations (Lumbar puncture, Bone marrow sampling, EKG, Blood sampling, etc.). ). I work in the Neurological Outpatient Clinic (four days a week) run by three nurses, me and my two colleagues, and in the Day Therapy Department (one day a week).”

Sonja’s job description includes care for all neurological diseases except stroke, and her patients most often have diagnoses of epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The days are never the same, but they are all connected by a joint consultation over the phone, where patients receive the exact time when the doctor will contact them when they call. “For the first hour we talk to patients of General Internal Medicine, and for the next two hours we talk to patients with neurological diagnoses. The purpose of counseling is to help patients with new health situations, exacerbations, side effects and practical confirmations related to a specific diagnosis. We listen to the patients, solve the problem, but if something is more complicated and requires a doctor’s opinion, then we consult our doctors and then pass the answers back to the patient over the phone. The rest of the day is spent solving tasks and questions related to patients who come to the communication digital platforms where we nurses/technicians work.”

PRATOR is a digital platform that connects all medical institutions in Sweden, and 1177 is a digital platform where nurses/technicians, doctors and medical secretaries work in direct communication with patients. Tasks come in the form of messages that are further solved. These platforms are checked several times a day. The afternoon is reserved for patients who have an appointment with a nurse. “During patient visits, I talk about the patient’s current state of health, possible symptoms, side effects, quality of life, and everything the patient wants to talk about. During the visit, various tests and assessments of the patient’s current condition are performed. I can determine myself how much time I need to visit an individual patient, but mostly visits are 45 to 60 minutes. After the patient’s visit, it is important to document everything, it is important to inform the doctor who is responsible for that particular patient of any current changes or problems. Another digital platform we work in is called Svenska Neuroregister. It is a state-owned platform where patient visits, health status, therapy and tests are recorded.”

And relations at work are at a highly professional level for Sonja. “We cooperate with each other every day, we are each other’s right hand and most decisions related to patients and team development are made jointly. Respect for each individual medical profession and good cooperation is essential. In this way, we lead the Neurology team forward. Breaks and lunch time are respected in the daily work in our clinics. It’s also a great time to socialize with colleagues from other teams.”

Sonja describes the Swedes as open and accommodating people and good and honest colleagues who respect their own and others’ privacy. “From the perspective of my job, the fact that everyone is considered equal, they treat each other with respect, regardless of whether someone is a boss, a nurse, an assistant nurse, a doctor or other staff involved in hospital duties, contributes to a good feeling. Swedes address each other with “you”, the exception being older people and patients, whom, if it is more comfortable, we address with “you”. In Sweden, there is a high level of awareness about a healthy lifestyle, healthy diet, reducing smoking and other vices. Sport is in the first place for all generations and is suitable for all ages. A large proportion of the population likes to spend time in nature.”

Sonja has advice for all those who are thinking about moving. “My advice to everyone who is thinking about moving to Sweden is to start learning the Swedish language as soon as possible, because then integration into society is much easier, and it is much easier to start a new job. It is very important to learn the language with Swedish language teachers, do all the required homework, read books and digital newspapers. My family and I learned a lot of new words and improved our language skills by watching Swedish series and movies with Swedish subtitles, but if we watched, for example, a movie in other languages, the subtitle was always in Swedish.

The decision to move to another country is a brave decision, but such decisions bring a different quality of life, great opportunities for advancement in the profession, further education and continuous training.”

Mateo Vlahović – medical technician

Mateo Vlahović, our next interlocutor, was motivated to go to Sweden because of the quality of life and work. “After 3 and a half years of living and working in Ireland, where I worked in their busiest emergency department in the whole country, I decided after much research to go to Sweden because of the better quality of life and much better working conditions. Conditions for work and advancement in Sweden are excellent. After two years of working in Sweden, I was given the opportunity to study to become a specialist medical technician, which was fully paid for by the hospital itself.

So that studying would not be too stressful, the hospital gives you 100% of your salary, even though you only work part-time during those two years of study.”

Mateo is not able to compare the conditions in Croatia and Sweden because he did not work in Croatian hospitals. “Currently, I work night shifts as a medical technician/shift leader in the psychiatric intensive care unit and in the emergency psychiatric unit.

Although I am the only medical technician on shift in those 2 departments, I must say that in most cases my work is really not stressful. The caregivers I work with are very well educated, and in most cases if the patient does not need therapy, the caregivers almost do not need my help.”

About Swedes, he thinks that they are quite closed in the beginning, but when you get to know them a little better, they become great friends. He is also satisfied with the process of moving, and when friends and family visit him, they want to move themselves. “The moving process went great. The agency found me an apartment and paid for the move itself, so there really wasn’t any great stress from today’s perspective.”

Mateo ended this short but informative interview with a simple conclusion shared by our many candidates: “Because of the much better working conditions, I think it’s really worth coming here.”

You can see more reviews and experiences of our candidates here!


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