Interview with Indrek, a radiologist from Estonia who relocated to Norway

Interview with Indrek, a radiologist from Estonia who relocated to Norway

Indrek is a radiologist from Estonia who relocated to Norway last year with help from MediCarrera. Today he lives and works in Notodden, 120 kilometers southwest of Oslo, and he recently celebrated one year in his new hometown. We talked to Indrek about his experiences from the relocation process, the language course, his work as a radiologist in Norway, and last but not least, his thoughts about life in Scandinavia.


Recruitment process

After relocating to Norway with help from MediCarrera, Indrek has only good things to say about the recruitment process. He’s impressed by the number of people that MediCarrera has recruited over the years. According to him, the recruitment process worked well, was fulfilling, and matched his expectations. He thinks that MediCarrera has an active team of good specialists, with everyone managing their own part.

“I really admired the fantastic team at MediCarrera. Your support has been many-sided, and I’m very thankful for that and for the nice language course. I guess the Scandinavian hospitals must be happy to work with such a well-functioning company”, says Indrek.

Language course

The Norwegian language courses have for many years been held as a group activity in Budapest, something that Indrek knew from the start. Due to the covid pandemic, the language course that he participated in had to be held online. He was, of course, expecting a group activity, but as a lot of things changed during the pandemic, it was not surprising for him that the course had to be held online instead.

According to Indrek, the language course was very well arranged. It was practical and gave not only the knowledge needed considering the language but also many other things. Practical and relevant things to know about the demographic situation, the social architecture, and of Norwegian society.

“Once again, I really want to thank my language teacher Adrienne for her teaching abilities and for being a very good language teacher. She gave us a very broad spectrum of life in Scandinavia.”

Indrek thinks that the material that Adrienne had chosen to be interesting and relevant for the participants in the language course, absolutely was so. Everything from printed files, PDF files, film, and video clips to the books. The central book of the course was a very good one, pursuant to Indrek. He says it contains much more than was possible to learn during the period of the language course. Once he finds time, he will continue reading it.

Together with the other doctors, they learned not only about the medical parts but also the social part of life and what matters to people living in Norway.

“The course was well balanced, and it was intense.”

The language course was especially intense during the intensive part that lasted for one and a half months, more or less. Indrek explains that during this part of the course they had internet meetings with Adrienne. She was located in Hungary and he was at home. He thinks it was easy and comfortable doing it this way. The days were also filled with learning outside the language classes, just like expected. Indrek had exercises to do and new texts to go through.  

The relocation to Notodden, Norway

Notodden is a smaller town with around 10 000 inhabitants, not too far away from the Norwegian capital. Relocating there was an interesting choice for Indrek.

“Notodden was an interesting choice for me, by that time I knew already that the town was situated in the county of Telemark. Telemark could be compared with “Norway in a nutshell”, meaning that the county contains some special features of Norway in every way.”

Telemark has an interesting landscape with its fjords, mountains, and lakes. There is also a traditional old waterway that passes by the town. Masses of water come from the mountains and are constantly flowing on their way south, to the sea. Indrek says that the place is geographically interesting. Before relocating, he already knew about Notodden’s special industrial heritage and that the town has become the site of a famous blues festival.

“Every year in August, for twenty years or more, one of the biggest blues festivals in Europe is being held here. The festival is very popular among Americans and original blues performers come to Notodden with pleasure and give great concerts and teach lessons to those who are interested. This is a very special thing.” explains Indrek.

The work as a radiologist in Norway

Today Indrek works as a radiologist in the hospital of Notodden. He admits it was challenging at first when he started his new work, but not so much any longer.

“They say that, usually, the first three months will be the most demanding or critical ones when you learn and try to get used to new conditions, new people, and a new way to work. But, now I can say that I’m quite content and I feel well about how I can dedicate myself and my time well for work.”

Indrek works slightly more than 100% and the work is divided between him and his two colleagues with the same specialization. They take turns when it comes to working on Saturdays which means that every third Saturday, Indrek has to work. He says that the work is organized in an interesting way. Each and one of the doctors are responsible for a different part and then they are rotating their duties every day. 

In the department where Indrek works, they have three main things they focus on; ultrasounds, general X-rays, and CTs. A normal workday also includes meetings. Indrek and his colleagues have a lot of communication with their clinical partners in internal medicine and also in surgery. 

According to Indrek, the radiology team works well and the relations are good between the co-workers. He says he appreciates the work of the radiographers very much. The number of radiographers is larger than the number of radiologists because the radiographers have to cover the night shifts.

“We have a lot of nice colleagues who are operating the CT machines and the X-ray machines and who are helping us with preparing patients for our ultrasounds. It’s a busy, well-functioning team and I think the way we work is well organized. It’s also nice that we try to find time to not only be good specialists but also good people to each other. This is as well part of the work.”

For Indrek, one of the best things about working as a radiologist in Norway is the fact that he is relatively free to concentrate on his medical specialty and to practice it as he thinks is the most proper way to practice it.

“Working in medicine always means that you have to learn something new or fill knowledge gaps that you meet and this is also possible here.”

He also mentions enough time to do the required work, a proper salary, and good colleagues as some of the best things about working in Norway. Indrek thinks that Notodden offers a nice environment to live and work in. 

Differences between working as a radiologist in Estonia and Norway

Something that was new for Indrek and that he saw when he came to Norway was the radiology departments. In Norway, many medical departments can be led by a nurse instead of a doctor. In his section, there are several nurses that are radiographers, and the department itself is led by a radiographer and not a doctor.

“My leader is a radiographer and this thing might be special about Scandinavia.”

Nowadays, this model is being implemented more and more in Norway. It gets more popular and Indrek can understand the practical point. It takes a lot to obtain medical doctors qualifications and, if this person later has to spend half of his or her working day on administrative things, it is not optimal. In Norway, they are instead letting a radiographer or an outstanding nurse deal with administrative tasks and Indrek thinks it is a nice model and that it could be a good solution. When it comes to more complex questions, he can always ask a leader in another clinic for guidance. 

Indrek mentions another thing that is also slightly different in the work of a radiologist in Norway compared to the work in Estonia but he points out that this could be something unique with just the place where he works. Probably it’s an issue in the local health system rather than the Norwegian healthcare system in general. In the hospital where Indrek works, there’s a lack of specialized medical care. Neurologists, nephrologists, rheumatologists, and some special surgeons, for instance, are not present there. These specializations are only represented in bigger centers. This means that general practitioners have more responsibility for the patients. They are the ones giving the patients consultations and making the decisions. As a radiologist, it’s important that the medical indication that you receive is enough founded and sometimes it happens that the studies asked from GPs are not enough from a radiologist’s point of view.

“All medical systems throughout Europe are different. Each and every one of them can have both strong sides and sides that are not ideal. This is just how the situation is and how the system works here.”

The work as a radiologist comes with good and less good things in both Estonia and Norway and Indrek can see many things that the countries have in common. He experiences that the two countries are striving in the same direction, meaning that both of them want to be able to offer a better service to their citizens. 

In the hospital in Notodden where Indrek works today, he sees innovation. The hospital is updating and in the nearest future, they will start a new project regarding studies for stroke patients. Something that is already an ongoing project in more modern clinics.

Differences between living and working in Estonia and Norway

According to Indrek, the Estonian and Norwegian societies are different. He says that there are not very big differences, but still some, and most of them are based on the fact that Estonia is part of the EU which Norway is not. However, both countries are European countries and they are moving parallelly. With that said, Indrek thinks the culture and social life within Estonia and Norway are pretty much the same. 

Something that might be slightly different among the countries is the trust of the authorities. He thinks that the trust in authorities is traditionally high in the Scandinavian countries and it’s probably not that high in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. But at the end of the day, both Estonia and Norway are democracies and the two countries are led by parliaments.

Life in Norway

Indrek likes life in Norway. People are very active which he finds positive. He often sees elderly people training or just enjoying outdoor life. Indrek thinks that you have many possibilities when you live in this country and a nice thing is having an interesting landscape very close by. There are plenty of activities for both summer and winter. Especially in winter with all the activities on snow, on ice, or in the mountains.

“This is rarely special, and for me personally, who likes cross-country skiing very much, Norway is a perfect place.”

When Indrek relocated to Norway last year, it was not his first in the country. He has visited Norway before and one of the times he was visiting was 10 years ago. Back then, they took the car to a part of Norway, up to “Geirangerfjorden” which is one of the most beautiful fjords in the country. From there, he traveled west through Bergen and Hardangervidda.

“We saw special places, the nature here is absolutely wonderful. And the people of course, who inhabit those landscapes, are special too. They belong together. That’s something nice about every country, of course.”

Once again, he mentions the beautiful landscape. He really appreciates having high mountains, spectacularly fjords, a very long seashore along the west coast, and the sea life, close by. Indrek also mentions that Norway has interesting architecture, forests, art, literature and music, and special ways of farming. Everything is special. 

Indrek thinks Norway has a great number of citizens and for having a quite small population, there are music, art, literature, and sports to be found everywhere. He also thinks that Norway is a country of many talented and friendly people. When Indrek started work, he met only friendly people.

“Today’s Norway is a society that includes people from different continents and it all seems to work smoothly. The society is strong and standing on democratic principles and I think it works well”. 

Indrek’s best tips for moving to Norway

As a recommendation to others who might be interested in relocating to Norway, Indrek is sharing some advice. He says that communicating with Norwegian authorities might take some time, but one has to be patient and just follow the indications from the authorities. Then it will work out. 

There are several steps that you will have to go through first. When you have your working contract you can begin to take the next step, to go to the tax department and then there’s a registering at the police and there is arranging the bank accounts and arranging the documents about your lodging or apartment or housing. Everything can take some time but it works out. Just one will need patience.

We want to thank Indrek for taking the time to talk to us. We’re very happy that he’s satisfied with the recruitment process, the language course, the relocation, and his new life working as a radiologist in Norway. We wish him all the best and good luck with future projects!


If you’re interested in doing the same journey as Indrek, relocating to Scandinavia to work as a medical specialist, please contact us. We will be happy to help you.

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