Living and Working in Austria: A Review by an Orthopedic and Traumatology Specialist

26. April 2024.

Dr. Slaven Bozicevic is an orthopedic and traumatology specialist who recently started living and working in Austria. We contacted him to check what his situation looks like now after he had some time to adjust.

We asked him about everything that healthcare workers who are looking to move want to know – from what the work conditions look like in Austria, to his best advice for colleagues. Here’s what he had to say.

Innsbruck, Austrija
Photo by Anna Rosar on Unsplash

Why Did You Choose to Live and Work in Austria?

Dr. Bozicevic is surprisingly honest when discussing his reasons for leaving his home country – Croatia.

“I was motivated by my colleagues, and especially my department leaders. They were always chosen based on politics, not expertise. Corruption, of course, always goes with it hand-in-hand. You try to fight it for a while but, eventually, you start facing the truth. And the truth is, you have only two options: fit in and shut up, or leave.”

He says he chose Austria because of its close proximity to Croatia, a similar mentality, historical connections, and the positive experience of the colleagues he talked to about leaving. “I also thought that the conditions in Austria would be better for me than in Germany.”

How Would You Describe The Work Conditions in Austria?

“Infrastructure-wise, there’s a drastic difference compared to Croatia,” says Dr. Bozicevic.

“The first big difference is in how the employer approaches you during your initial discussions about the work and contract. You really feel like you are welcome and needed.”

Besides a welcoming and respectful atmosphere, dr. Bozicevic says that Austrian hospitals are also better organized and equipped.

“The first thing you get is a uniform. The uniform has a specific name and surname, custom measures, and is washed in the hospital. This may seem irrelevant to some, but it’s a small detail that shows a big difference compared to Croatia,” he says.

Dr. Bozicevic also says that he can’t even imagine that something is missing in the operating room – for example, that the X-ray is not available, that there’s not enough material to work with, or that the assistants and others don’t follow the operator’s needs. Healthcare workers are given everything they need to work; just like it’s supposed to be.

Ljudske ruke na stolu
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

What Are The Colleagues and The Work Atmosphere Like in Austria?

“The colleagues have been super welcoming,” says Dr. Bozicevic. “The support and willingness to help others is always present. I never experienced getting side-eyed or not receiving the help I need.”

We should, however, emphasize that the German language is not Dr. Bozicevic’s forte – but he thinks this doesn’t cause any relevant problems. “Everyone can tell that I have trouble understanding the language. But I never get criticized for it; I only get support.”

The support comes from everyone, he says – from the board to the cooks.

Are you interested in discovering what specialist training looks like in Austria? Find out here!

What Are the Biggest Differences Between Living and Working in Austria vs. Croatia?

“Organization and responsibility are different. In my department, the department boss and his deputy take most of the accountability,” says Dr. Bozicevic. On the other hand – and somewhat surprisingly – he says that the notion of collective responsibility is much stronger.

“The first thing my boss told me is that we are all a team. If we work well and achieve good results, then we all take credit for it. If, however, there are some complications and things don’t go well, this is also a collective, rather than an individual responsibility.”

This makes things significantly easier for the individual, thinks Dr. Bozicevic.

And what about his colleagues’ expertise? How does it compare to his own?

“I’d say that the level of expertise is comparable to Croatia. Still, I sometimes feel like I’m falling behind in terms of education and keeping up with the new trends. However, here, you have enough time and opportunities to educate yourself and get back on track,” he says.

How Would You Describe Austrians?

Dr. Bozicevic believes they’re pretty similar to Croatians. He never felt like he was “worth less” when interacting with the locals. He also emphasizes that the people in his area are pretty active in their free time. They like to engage in sports, spend time in nature, and have quality rest.

However, he highlights a significant problem – the language. Actually, it’s not the language that’s the main issue; it’s the dialect of the people in his area. “You need a lot of time to fit in and get the hang of things. I’m still not even close,” he admits.

“I believe that I’ll be even closer with others once I make some progress in that area.”

Do you want a second opinion? Read what a doctor of radiology says about living and working in Austria!

How Would You Compare the Work Conditions in Austria to Croatia? What Are Some Pros and Cons?

“The biggest disadvantage in my case is poor knowledge of language,” says Dr. Bozicevic. This makes other things harder for him, from working to socializing, but he’s hoping to overcome that challenge soon.

Work organization is also different, but highly depends on the hospital and your boss. But that’s something you adjust to pretty easily.” As an example, he describes how work is organized in his department. “Every week, one colleague is in charge of visiting rounds, which means they handle everything related to inpatients – from bandaging, therapy correction, referral to consular examination, X-ray control, and laboratory controls. Everything is also tracked in an e-form.”

The main advantage is that he already knows his on-duty and working days schedule for the next 4 months. His vacation was also planned and approved in January.

“Also, if I’m off-duty or don’t have a “long day”, I work from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. When I do have a long day, which happens about 1-2x a month, I work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. When I’m on duty, I come at 7 a.m., and I leave the next day at 8 a.m. It’s not possible to continue working after an on-duty shift in my hospital.”

There’s a clear intention not to overburden the healthcare workers – which is much different compared to what doctors are going through in Croatia.

Sat na zidu
Photo by Ocean Ng on Unsplash

What Does Your Workday Look Like?

We also asked Dr. Bozicevic to describe his average workday for us. He shared the following schedule:

  • 7:oo – 7:25 a.m. – a morning meeting for all doctors in the department. We first check indications and operating plans for patients scheduled for that day. We then analyze the operations and heavier cases from the previous day, such as complications. At the end of the meeting, the boss notifies everyone about their working place for that day. This could be an outpatient clinic, specialist outpatient clinic, or something similar. Those who are in charge of making visiting rounds already know about it.
  • 7:25 – 12:oo p.m. – working at the assigned workplace.
  • 12:oo – 12:30 p.m. – a short meeting and an overview of all X-rays and CTs indicated that day.
  • 12:30 – 14:00 p.m. –  during this period, everyone can take a 30-minute lunch break. There’s a restaurant in the hospital, which offers a more-than-decent meal for 4 €.

“After 1 p.m., I’m free – unless I have a long day or am on duty. If there is any overtime, it is always noted and paid for. We check in and check out of the hospital with a card,” concludes Dr. Bozicevic.

How Did Your Family and Friends React to Your Decision?

Dr. Bozicevic says that his loved ones knew about his plans for a long time, so they weren’t surprised when he finally decided to leave. “They weren’t happy about it, but most really supported me because they understood my reasoning and motivation.”

Photo by Carrie Borden on Unsplash

Do You Have Any Advice for Colleagues Who Are Considering Relocating?

The most important thing is, he believes, to get good information about where you’re going and what the conditions are. “If you’re not happy with the conditions, the environment, or anything else, you can easily change the hospital.”

Also, he says that you should prepare for some hiccups in the beginning – after all, you’re coming to a new environment with a different organization. “You definitely need some time to adjust. Count on questioning your decision for the first 4-6 months,” he says.

“But, you’ll be reminded of why you’re here at the end or the beginning of each month when you open your bank account. Of course, money isn’t everything, but the difference is really noticeable.”

When it comes to living and working in Austria, Dr. Bozicevic quotes one of his colleagues and says “it’s better here, but it’s more beautiful back home.” With time, the job does get easier and better, but it’s not everything. That’s why he says that being alone abroad isn’t a good long-term plan.

Are You Ready to Live and Work in Austria, Too?

As Dr. Bozicevic says, there are many opportunities for healthcare workers – so you shouldn’t settle for anything you don’t like. We can help you find exactly what you’re looking for!

If you’re ready for that, contact us at info@incor.hr to get more information about the process. We also remind you that we have jobs available in other European countries too – Scandinavia, Germany, and Ireland.

Dr. Bozicevic is one of many healthcare workers we helped achieve their dreams of living and working abroad. Find more reviews from our candidates here!

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