An interview with David Antoniu GP, after 4 years of living in Sweden
We asked David some questions about his experience as a Family Doctor in Sweden, where he moved in 2015 with the assistance from MediCarrera.
David Antoniu visited the primary care centre, in Tranås a town of 18 000 inhabitants, situated, in South Central Sweden, this was in spring 2014.
The visit, a study tour for three days, is part of the first steps in the process, before you make the final decision to accept a new job offer. We arrange a meeting with the clinic and organize a visit to the city and region where the position is available in. There you get a chance to experience the town and the workplace. If you have children we take the opportunity to visit schools and daycares. The trip is financed by the employer.
When the contract was signed, David started the language course in Calafell, where he studied from September to December 2014. Right before his employment started in January 2015.
The move to Sweden went smoothly with assistance from our relocation team.
He has now had his job for over 4 years and was happy to tell us that it was the best decision he made.
We asked him to answer a few questions to give us some insight about his experience in Sweden.
What is the thing you mostly like about Swedes?
Swedes believe in people, their relationships are based on trust and even if they don’t know you, the first premise will be to validate the other. On the other side, if you lose their confidence, it is lost forever. They are extremely happy to welcome new colleagues, they are very surprised that foreign people want to live in Sweden. You can find a huge variety of nationalities in Sweden and this contributes to creating an open society. From this point of view I compare Sweden with the new world, just like America was before.
What is the thing you are mostly satisfied and proud of?
After four years I managed to bring my child here. He is 17 years old, and last year in August he joined me in Sweden. He started high-school from the beginning, just like I had to start my position as a resident in family medicine four years ago.
I also managed to buy a house.
How is your work as a family doctor in Tranås?
In Tranås there are 18000 inhabitants and a net of public primary care centres.
In our primary care centre there are 10 GPs, and in total 60 medical staff among which nurses, psychologists, kinesiotherapists. The primary care centre has its own independent laboratory.
In the public healthcare they use their time and their resources very efficiently. The family doctor has an electronic agenda, which is organized in advance by the nurse, with 15 minutes per patient, so all the time is planned with maximum efficiency. Even the breaks are scheduled, twice per day.
Also, another example is that there is no situation in which a doctor and a nurse are together in an examination, each one of them attend different patients.
We have a schedule of 8 hours per day and two duties per month. The duties are at a nearby hospital. I travel to a hospital, 40 km away from Tranås. Normally a family doctor has 2-3 duties per month, from 17 to 22h.
After 22h, the on-call duties are scheduled. The nurses from the elderly homes can call on the phone and ask questions.
In Sweden the phone in the medical setting is very well used. I have approximately 5 phone-calls with patients every day. On the phone we can monitor the patient, do follow-ups and adjust the medicine.
How is the relationship doctor-patient?
The family doctors have the obligation to do follow-up before and after hospitalization. There are a lot of preventive check-ups. Whenever a patient gets out of the hospital there is a recovery plan and follow-up.
Also, the municipality is involved, there are nurses paid by the municipality to take care of the patients and they can call the family doctor and ask questions.
One of the most important activity of the GP is to fill in the electronic journal of the patient with all the clinical history, interventions, plan of treatment, etc.
The patients and all the colleagues have access to the electronic journal.
This puts a certain pressure on the doctor, he must be extremely attentive to plan and follow-up according to the rules. It can be stressful but it is in the best interest of the patient.
How is the collaboration with the colleagues?
I was very surprised to see how much help you get from colleagues.
The collaboration is very natural and consensus is very important.
The essence of the Swedish collaboration is the “fika”, I have two “fikas” per day, scheduled in my agenda. Everybody meets and takes a coffee while talking to colleagues.
We also have meetings every week with the whole team, to discuss about the patients.
Also Sweden is a society of consensus. All the team eats together, 30-40 people at the same table. You can have lunch every day with your boss and this shows that they give the same value to everyone. Also this contributes to the solidarity of the team.
How is the access to investigations and analytics?
There are rules and protocols for every diagnosis, elementary steps.
In these 5 years I never had any restrictions regarding additional analytics and examinations. Sometimes I asked very special analytics which were made only in two laboratories in Sweden. I didn’t have any commentary about this and the truth is that I never felt a financial pressure regarding the medical investigations.
What are the opportunities for a family doctor in Sweden?
As a doctor you have incredible opportunities. Every week I receive job offers from Sweden, Norway or Denmark, on different channels, phone or social media. But I am so well integrated here and I feel so good that I wouldn’t like to leave for all the money in the world.
What is great about Sweden is that if you just do your job as a doctor, everything else falls into place. You don’t need to struggle about accomplishing things. You just need to focus on the patients and on your professional life.
At the bank they have an extraordinary trust if you are a doctor and you can have very good conditions.
The primary care centre invests in our training as doctors but also as persons. We have courses to improve our pedagogical capacities. We receive a lot of help when we come here and they expect us to help younger colleagues.
There is no difference between the level of the salary of a Swedish doctor and a foreign doctor. Every year they increase the salary and you can have a very good life as a doctor.
As a family doctor the primary care centre sends you to conferences and congresses or training courses.
Also 2 days per year are dedicated to news in the medical field. All the doctor in the region gather and have access to this information.
How is life in Tranås?
It’s an incredible life, I was wondering what do people do on holidays because in their spare time they have many leisure activities that I used to associate with holidays.
Many people have boats and when they finish working they go out with the boat. A colleague of mine, once, came swimming 4 km on a lake to the GP practice.
It is a peaceful place, with settled down people with families.
Even if Tranås is small, with only 18000 inhabitants, it is perfectly functional, it has 5 gyms, a pool, a 4 stars hotel, 20 restaurants, 6 general schools and a high-school, it is 3 hours away from Stockholm. Sometimes I consider that I live in a neighbourhood of Stockholm because in Bucharest, on traffic jams it was what took to get to my work.
How did the language course help you to adapt to Sweden?
It was the best period of my life. I had a very good level of Swedish when I arrived compared with other colleagues who were struggling with the language.
What are the major cultural differences?
Before I came to Sweden I thought it was hard to integrate in the Swedish society, especially in my case, being 40 years old.
But, right now I have 4 or 5 good friends in town.
It is perhaps hard to get in, but when you know a Swede you can have a friend for a life. You have to invest time and quality in the relationships.
How do you evaluate the whole process with MediCarrera?
It was fantastic, and I am very grateful to the whole MediCarrera team. It changed my life. The Swedish colleagues told me that sometimes it doesn’t go well for doctors from abroad, but they continue to invest in people and this is extraordinary.
Do you feel accomplished professionally?
What is great is that here you live with the feeling that very good times are still ahead, waiting for you.
It is very hard work, and this means that as a doctor coming from abroad you need to get out of your comfort zone, to experiment a bit of discomfort because you need to learn a lot of things.
The Swedish colleagues believe in you and they help you and if you do your job then things go up obligatory.
We at MediCarrera are very satisfied and happy that we could contribute to this career change for David. We are also very happy that he now calls Sweden his home.