Camelia, Child and adolescent psychiatrist from Romania working in Denmark

CAMELIA came to Denmark in the beginning of March 2013 to start her new position in Brønderslev. She is very happy to work and finish her education as a specialist doctor in Denmark, because the system works well and she enjoys the inter­disciplinary collabor­ation. She lives in Aalborg, but works in Brønderslev, where she has just finished her I-Position (intro­duction position) and is now starting her H-position (according to the Danish system for education of Specialist doctors).

How it all started

“It all started when, one day, I almost accidentally came across a job fair. I’ve always known that I wanted to work in one of the Nordic countries, but I had virtually no knowledge of the difference between Sweden, Norway and Denmark. My choice of speciality was also based upon the knowledge that there was a need for child–adolescent psychiatrists in Scandinavia, and that this would increase my possi­bilities for getting a job abroad. At that job fair, I met with MediCarrera who said they also sought doctors for junior positions. I was a little suspicious as I had read something else, but I filled out the form that they gave me and only 3 days later I was again contacted by MediCarrera to participate in a screening interview on Skype. Why not, I thought to myself, and from then on things suddenly happened very fast.”

Interview trip July 2012

When Camelia received the message from MediCarrera that there was a hospital in Denmark that was interested in her, she was almost in shock and somewhat overwhelmed. At the first interview with psychiatry in North Jutland she did so well that she was subsequently invited to a second interview in Denmark. Here she was to see the hospital, clinic, new colleagues, and the city and of course her husband should also see Denmark.

The study trip to Denmark took place in July. The couple had been a little hesitant because of the weather. “We had heard that the sun only shone four hours a day and that it was very cold, but the weather in July was lovely. The interview was very relaxed. Not as serious as the first interview. It was about showing me the department and introducing new colleagues. Every­thing was very well prepared and organized for us. We also went to a typical Danish restaurant and tasted Danish food”, Camelia recalls.

It is important for Camelia to emphasise that during the whole process her husband was being included. “Both MediCarrera and my future employers were paying close attention to whether he supported me, whether he was ready to move to a new country, if he had job oppor­tunities, etc. He was really considered an important part of our arrival to Denmark.”

“During the first time period, we followed this programme, and that was great. We were introduced to our new jobs in a very smooth and organised way.”

We really wanted to go to Denmark

“It would have been very unfortunate and a bit of a failure if I hadn’t been offered a job after the interview trip,” says Camelia. “We had no doubts. We both really wanted to go to Denmark, to North Jutland.” “In fact, I was a little disappointed when I later got an email from the HR department that it was not certain that it would result in anything and that various adminis­trative things had to fall into place, so we had to wait and see. I was very nervous and also a little doubtful, until I actually saw my employ­ment contract. At that point it all became real, and I realized that it actually was possible, that it was happening”.

Language course in Barcelona

The language course in Spain was hard, recalls Camelia. “I remember that it was incredibly hard to study Danish. We were, of course, far away from home but it was actually good to be isolated in this way. At home you have many other things to do, many distractions. Among other things, you have family and friends to be cared for and phone-calls to be answered. In Spain we only had to focus on the language course. 5-7 hours a day and then homework, but in fact we sometimes got into such a good convers­ation that when class was over, we stayed and continued the discussion. Our Danish teacher was incredibly talented, and we learned a lot every day. Spain is a lovely country, sunny and warm. And that helped a bit, I suppose.”

Starting a new job in Denmark

Regarding the job, Camelia explains that it was actually better than expected. She did not feel that it was as stressful as she thought it would be, and she was never pressured into anything she wasn’t ready for. For example, she didn’t have her first watch until after 6 months. For the first month there was an introduction programme planned for the new doctors. “During the first time period, we followed this programme, and that was great. We were introduced to our new jobs in a very smooth and organised way. In the prog­ramme, the different courses we needed to do were also planned and scheduled. We already had a good level of Danish when we came to Denmark. In fact, we felt that we were a little better than those who came from other agencies. Still, it was hard to understand the North Jutland dialect. We had learned Danish, but not dialects,” says Camelia.

Camelia says that in Spain, during the intensive course, the group of students was very small. This meant that the language course was very intensive. Her husband participated in the course as well, and now in Denmark, he is preparing the Higher Education Examination / Studieprøven (C1) so that he can enter the university and continue studying. He has not yet found a new job in Denmark. He is trained as a building instructor, but at the moment his greatest priority is to pass Studieprøven and get into university. Camelia says that for her husband the first period in Denmark has been a difficult time. “He has been working since he was 18, so it was hard to come to Denmark and not have any work. Suddenly it was he who was in charge of the household and his only job was to study Danish. This also meant, of course, that I got better at Danish through my work and daily experiences with Danes, while he didn’t improve so much,” says Camelia.

Were you linguistically prepared to start your employment and your new life in Denmark upon arrival?

“In Denmark, almost everything is computerised, and I was good at reading Danish, which was good in the beginning. This made things such as contracting telephone, Internet, etc. easier. I could do most of it myself, because I could read what I had to do. The hardest part was definitely listening. To understand what the Danes were saying. I could feel that they were used to getting foreign doctors in North Jutland. There was always somebody ready to help. I also still have a contact person, and that is a great help and comfort. Written Danish has never been a problem for me. In fact, I think I wrote better Danish, when I came to Denmark than I do now. Today I actually only write e-mails. In my position I don’t write journals or things like that.”

When asked about what has been the most difficult part of the whole process, Camelia has no doubts. “It was the language course. It was hard and repeatedly frustrating, but also impres­sively effective.” Another thing she remembers as difficult in the beginning, and actually still finds difficult, is to understand the whole education system in Denmark. “The system is very different from the system I know from Romania. It took me a while to understand the concepts. What is an I-forwarding? What is an H-position? How do I sign up for this course? How do I create a training plan? What is a union represen­tative? What is the Danish Psychiatric company? Where can I find the form I need to fill out, etc.? We don’t have the same structure in Romania.”

The biggest surprise

It came as a surprise to Camelia that the education system is so good in Denmark. She was expecting to get a good education, and that she would become a good specialist, yet she was pleasantly surprised. In Romania, all the focus is on the specialist doctor, but in Denmark, the younger doctor is also a priority and this is something she is happy with.

Is it true that Danes are hard to get to know?

“Yes, that’s correct. For instance, we haven’t really made any Danish friends yet. We have some acquain­tances, but not real friends. The friends we have made here are people who also come from other countries. We hope that this will change now that Adrian is starting university. Although there are many social events at work and everybody’s very nice and friendly, it’s hard to take this into the private sphere,” says Camelia. “The only thing I miss from home is my friends.”

A word of advice to others

“I think the best advice is that you really have to have confidence in yourself. It’s true that Danish is a difficult language to learn, but it’s not impossible, and with MediCarrera the experience is better than expected.