Review by Domagoj Đaković – specialist training in Austria

27. October 2023.

In Spring 2023, Domagoj set out on a journey. He found a specialist training in Austria that met his needs, and, with our help, moved and started a new life in this second most livable country in the world. Now, he has shared his experience with us. You can read it below.

Vienna, Austria from afar
Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash / Austria boasts an extremely high quality of life and an almost exclusively public (and functional) healthcare system.

Domagoj, before we dive in, can you first share your reasons for taking specialist training in Austria? Is there a reason why you didn’t want to do it in Croatia? “I was primarily motivated by a better healthcare system abroad and the fact that I won’t depend on the so-called “slave” specialization contracts that are still present in Croatia,” says Domagoj. The thing that keeps him motivated is a competitive salary and every overtime hour being recorded. “It’s impossible not to be financially compensated for your overtime hours.”

But is Domagoj really happy with working and living in Austria? Before we reveal the answers to these and other questions, let’s take a quick look at his average workday.

Average Workday in an Austrian Internal Medicine Department

Domagoj’s average workday begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends around 1:45 p.m., which means he spends about six hours on the job every day. During the day, he has two breaks: one lunch break, and one coffee break. His day is quite dynamic; it is filled with blocks for meetings and patient work.

An overview of Domagoj’s normal workday:

  • 7:30 a.m. – a morning meeting; colleagues discuss and present new patients from the day before and the existing patients in the department
  • 8:00 a.m. – coffee break and work organization
  • 8:15 a.m.-1:30 p.m. – infirmary work – admitting planned patients, working on emergency patients, anamnesis, status, therapy, diagnostics
  • 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. – lunch break
  • 1:30 p.m. – transferring patients who were checked in the infirmary to on-duty colleagues
  • 1:45 p.m. – leaving work

“I’m currently completing the mandatory internship before I start with the specialization, so-called Basisausbildungwhich lasts for nine months.” With that in mind, Domagoj’s average workday may not be the same as that of his older colleagues.

“I have five to six 24-hour duty shifts a month as a “lower service,” and I am free after each duty shift.” So, just like in Croatia, there are days when Domagoj needs to work extended shifts, but he is always adequately compensated for them. “If a duty shift falls on a weekend, you always get one extra day off in the next week,” says Domagoj.

Why Austria?

Domagoj has wanted to try his luck in a foreign-speaking country ever since his early days in college. He eventually decided to move to a German-speaking area. Part of the reason for that was that Domagoj started learning German while he was still in high school, so continuing to learn the same language wasn’t that big of an issue.

However, the deciding factor in moving to Austria was its short distance from Croatia. “Thanks to the short geographical distance, I can visit my family in Croatia often,” says Domagoj. Maybe that’s partly why his friends and family have wholeheartedly supported his decision from the beginning.

Austria vs. Croatia

Ruke nekoliko ljudi zajedno postavljene jedne na drugima
The collective spirit is still very much alive and well in Austria. Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Like many of his colleagues, Domagoj claims that the working conditions in Austria are far better than in Croatia. For example, he gets a much higher salary in Austria than in Croatia for the same number of working hours. and he also gets an additional 13th and 14th salary every year. “I am also provided with accommodation of my choosing near the hospital and a free lunch in the hospital during my internship.”

Domagoj, however, emphasizes that the difference doesn’t just lie in different working conditions, but also in how doctors approach patients. He says that Austrian doctors are very precise and thorough, and that “the spectrum of tests used for a particular patient is often much wider and comprehensive than in Croatia.” On the other hand, prescribing antibiotics, for example, is much rarer and done only if there are specific indications.

He also believes that older and more experienced colleagues in Austria are more supportive of younger doctors and residents at the beginning of their careers.

“In these first 6 months of working in Austria, I only had good experience with the people. Colleagues are always willing to help and are kind, hardworking, and talkative. You always feel comfortable and respected when speaking to them.”

The interpersonal relationships in the hospital are generally of higher quality, the work is better organized, and the influence of politics is much less felt. Domagoj is also satisfied with the lack of demanding specialization contracts, which are typical of the Croatian healthcare system, and with a better balance between his personal and professional life.

Advice for Colleagues

Domagoj, thank you for sharing your experience and helping your colleagues make the right choice for themselves! Do you have any other advice for them? “My advice for young people who want to work abroad is that they focus on learning the language,” says Domagoj. This can mean starting to regularly study a foreign language during college, enrolling in a course, or, alternatively, working in a hospital abroad during the summer.

“A skillful and confident use of language is far more important than your grades,” says Domagoj. His experience is that employers will rarely look at your college grades, and be far more focused on your language skills and attitude.

With that said, “prior work experience and internships are always a plus.” And you have an even bigger advantage if you’ve already worked in the country you’re applying for a job in.

Domagoj is one of many healthcare workers we’ve helped achieve their plans about working and living abroad. Read more reviews from our candidates here!

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