Miriam, neurologist from Alicante in Spain working in Denmark

WHEN I met Miriam in front of the Western Regional hospital in Holstebro last October, it was already winter in Denmark. Miriam and her Italian husband, Massimiliano, moved to Denmark in June 2016, because she was offered a job in the neurological department in Region Midt. It has been an intensive period, full of emotions and changes. First she was a doctor in Spain, then she went through MediCarrera’s five-month intensive language course and now she is finally living and working in Holstebro, where she and her husband are settling little by little in the Danish culture.

How did it begin?

”I heard about MediCarrera through a colleague, who I had been to medical school with. He was working in Sweden and went through MediCarrera’s programme approximately five years ago. He was enthusiastic about it and was saying positive things about the company and Sweden. I wanted to move from Spain and, after having heard from him how satisfying life and work in Sweden can be, I wanted to know more. So I contacted MediCarrera.

There was no rush because I had a steady job in Spain but I decided to leave the options open. The first interview I had with MediCarrera was well organised and I had clear and precise information. My husband and I had a lot of questions and the MediCarrera team was always available for explanations and followed us closely throughout the entire process. I believe I was given quite a realistic idea of what I was headed for. I was told about the possible changes in my life, but I could still picture a more balanced and quieter life for us in Scandinavia.”

“After a while I got an offer from Denmark. Everything looked really promising! I went to Holstebro for an interview and what impressed me the most were the hospital’s positive atmosphere and the colleagues’ friendly and human attitude. We were given a tour of the city and the overall impression of my future life was really good.”

Holstebro seemed a bit different from the cities in Spain and Italy, where Miriam and Massimiliano were used to live. It is a relatively large town in Denmark and it is very well connected to the main Danish cities but most of all it’s a low density, people-oriented and remarkably green centre. The daily routine here is more healthy and liveable, they move around a lot by bicycle and have time to enjoy open-air activities, to travel and to discover new interesting places here in Jutland.

When Miriam was offered the job as a staff specialist in the neurological department of the local Hospital, they were very happy and felt that all their efforts and hard work were worth it. She immediately accepted the position.

MediCarrera’s language course

Shortly after her job acceptance, Miriam and Massimiliano began MediCarrera’s five-month language course in Calafell, south of Barcelona. During the course doctors are taught both everyday Danish and medical language, as well as how the healthcare system works. They also have the opportunity to learn more about Danish culture and traditions. Our primary aim is to fully and adequately prepare them for life and work in Denmark.

“The language course was really structured. We had an amazing teacher, who I would like to thank for being so strict with us. It helped us a lot once we moved abroad. Plus it was quite gratifying seeing people surprised when they actually hear us speaking Danish! Practicing constantly and communicating with the other doctors on the course in Danish was really useful. I don’t deny that the first month was tough, learning a new language from scratch is always a bit hard but we eventually became familiar with it”.

The essence of MediCarrera’s approach is that the whole family should be included from the very beginning in the process, and learning the language of the country as fast and efficiently as possible is the first step towards a successful relocation. For this reason all the partners, Massimiliano as well, attend classes separately from the doctor group because their language programme is more focused on daily vocabulary, social Danish conversation and not on medical terminology.”

He recalls: “In hindsight I think it was really positive to be separated from the doctors. When the group is smaller the participants are more actively involved and the learning is more effective.”

“My husband and I had a lot of questions and the MediCarrera team was always available for explanations and followed us closely throughout the entire process.”

A Spanish doctor in a Danish work place

“In the beginning I thought: “What am I doing?” But my boss, who is a really nice person, encouraged me and gave me time to get to know my way around. She said I had to be patient and take it slowly. During the first month I joined other doctors and followed their schedule. After a while I began to work independently and was given more and more responsibility, at my own pace.”

“The work life is very flexible. Lately I‘m spending time in the lab and it happens now and then that I work overtime but I’m happy because I’m starting to feel part of the team. If I had to mention what positively surprised me about the Danes is that they have a broad knowledge of medicine. So the patients ask more questions and being able to dedicate more quality time in face-to-face contact with them makes the patient-doctor relationship more direct and useful.”

What she enjoys the most is that the hospital staff includes a lot of different nationalities which creates a multicultural and dynamic atmosphere. According to Miriam the work environment turns out to be pleasant and quite stimulating and her “colleagues are good at helping”. She can ask anybody for advice.

The hospital was very supportive and helped Massimiliano obtain a trainee position as an electrician in the technical department. Furthermore he is currently training a football group of boys and this turns out to be a great opportunity to keep speaking Danish.

Life in Denmark

Miriam experienced herself how, in Denmark, it is possible to have a full-time position and still be able to enjoy your free time. So when the couple aren’t working or studying, they go out and visit different cities and the beautiful landscape of Denmark. They even took a trip to Germany with another couple they met during MediCarrera language course.

Talking about how she would describe her new life in Denmark she says: “The best thing is that here people live happily and quietly. They are not constantly concerned about losing their jobs or lacking money at the end of the month. Things are better organised and you don’t have to worry about everything. We feel safe and secure and the system really works.”