Experiences of family medicine doctors from Sweden

02. December 2022.

One of the key questions before making any big decision is “What awaits me?”, especially when we move to another country. No one can give us an exact answer to that question, but they can help us by sharing their personal experience. In this review, we bring reviews of our satisfied candidates who accepted offers in Sweden and found happiness in Scandinavia.

Review of Dr. Bartul, doctor of family medicine, about Sweden

Dr. Bartula moved to Sweden in order to ensure a better future for his family, and money was ultimately decisive reason for the move. Despite the popular belief that doctors are well paid, this is actually not the case. “Doctors in Croatia have a so-called status that is artificial. Out of some kind of political correctness and modesty, we become tragicomic not only to ourselves, but also to the wider social community. If you look back, nobody sticks to doctors, and we constantly, even though we barely make ends meet, say that “we are fighting for some kind of better conditions, respect for the profession, etc.” The latest law on health care shows how much the authorities, but also the people, care about us.” dissatisfied is Dr. Bartul by the attitude towards doctors because he believes that this situation reflects unfavorably on the whole society.

As far as working conditions are concerned, comparing Sweden and Croatia is impossible, according to this experienced doctor, because “in real life it would be like comparing a Ferrari with a second-hand Fiat that you have already repaired a hundred times”. In Sweden, doctors are appreciated and welcomed, and adequate payment for their work is not at all questionable. If problems arise, the doctors are discussed and consulted about the patients’ cases. The reason for this is that the doctor’s opinion is highly valued and respected.

Our interlocutor’s working day in family medicine starts at 8 in the morning and ends at 5 p.m. with a mandatory unpaid lunch break lasting an hour. The break is usually between 12 and 1 pm, and working hours are structured so that doctors have time for patients, administration or education. Education and seminars are planned, desirable and every employee has the right to them. There are also mandatory on-call services once or twice a month, which are paid for additionally. In his professional life, Dr. Bartula considers Swedes approachable people who like to help and are very professional. They respect the rules and, not least, the privacy of others.

In Sweden, both nurses and technicians play a major role in the patient’s treatment because they are actively involved in the entire process. Usually, nurses specialize in different diseases and conditions like diabetes, COPD/asthma, psychological problems, heart failure and more. They often do evaluations, counseling and monitoring of patients without the presence of a doctor.

“The fundamental difference between the Swedish and Croatian models of family medicine is that patients choose the Health Center, not an individual doctor and his team. Another difference, but no less important, is that patients must make an appointment for an examination, by phone, in person, through the official page of the regional health portal, and even on a customized health web platform where you can describe your health problems and communicate with the health staff.”, Dr. Bartul explains the differences between the health systems of the two countries. There is an important difference in the number of employees who perform this work, so in Sweden, for example, a considerable number of secretaries, receptionists, nurses, psychologists and physiotherapists are needed in order for this process to proceed smoothly. Pressure on doctors naturally exists due to the increased volume of work, but not like in Croatia, and the pay is incomparably better.

For our interlocutor, there is no dilemma: “This country is an example of how to preserve and build professional dignity and a recognized status in society. If you cared about your status, a better life and health, and the future of your children, come to Sweden or at least start the process.” says the doctor who found his bright future in Sweden to all his colleagues.

Review of Dijana – doctor of family medicine about Sweden

Dijana Mršić, a novice specialist in family medicine in Sweden, has been in Sweden for less than four years, and every year she is more and more sure that the decision to move was completely correct. There are many reasons for this – from the way of accessing treatment during the pandemic, working conditions and lifestyle.

“I decided to move because of the then almost impossible working conditions in family medicine, financial subsidization of work, constant mobbing by HZZO and patients, countless fines and threats to which we were/and continue to be/ are exposed to as family medicine doctors. I wanted to provide my children with better opportunities for education and work and a more peaceful life.” Dijana begins with a review of the reasons that forced her to move. Although the doctor’s work is difficult and responsible, what really prevents it is the chaos in the system, the passivity of political structures in making solutions and decisions that will improve the status and conditions of doctors, the shifting of responsibilities and patient dissatisfaction, which are the final result of all failures.

Unlike in Croatia, people are polite, grateful, they try to improve what is not working, and they also have the support of colleagues, bosses and unions. All visits are organized in advance, so the doctor has information about the patient’s condition even before he is in the office. Salaries are better than in Croatia, and if you want or need to change jobs, you will easily find another one in all of Scandinavia. “You can work as a private doctor with twice the gross salary. You can work online. Their educations are wonderful, understandable, stimulating, full of very important and good information. You have round-the-clock access to Swedish guidelines for working in general medicine and in the hospital system.” – Dijana is delighted with the advantages of the Swedish healthcare system.

Our former candidate also liked the people in Sweden. “Swedes are very approachable if you want to communicate with them. If you don’t want to, it’s also very easy to leave you alone and go your own way. No one will bother you. Whatever you ask, he will be happy to answer. Colleagues invite you to their house for dinner or a celebration – if the Covid 19 measures are not in effect.” – she conveys her personal experience with people, and she is also satisfied with the organization of the workplace. It is possible to work full time or less than that, depending on your will and desire. This automatically means that the number of patients is higher or lower, and on average between 4 and 8 patients per shift. Your time can be devoted only to telephone consultations or prescriptions, which opens up more time for mentorships, specializations and additional education.

“Perhaps it is interesting to note that in primary health care, depending on the Health Center, dermatoscopic examinations, cryotherapy, mole removal and susp changes, atheroma, lipoma, minor surgery, rectoscopy with proctoscopy, gynecological examinations, children’s dispensary, cortisone injections in large joints. A physiotherapist is directly available to patients without a doctor’s appointment.”, and it is also interesting that Dijana can send a consultation referral without her colleague meeting the patient. The specialized knowledge of nurses and technicians positively surprised our family medicine specialist, especially in the areas of diabetes, asthma and COPD. The nurses have their own patients, and in more serious cases they consult doctors.

And in the end, Dijana shared some advice that warmed our hearts: “If you decide to move to Sweden, which I highly recommend (I believe that today Scandinavia has become what the USA used to be, a country of open countless possibilities), INCOR is the house no. 1 that can help you with that. My experience with INCOR has been fantastic.”.


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