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Interview with Krister Åkesson from Germany

- We have become Swedish parents!

- I had just completed my medical training in Germany and attended a Swedish course for a year. I intentionally sought work in Sweden together with my wife and a friend. I received an internship in Karlskoga with a practice here at Pilgården's health care centre. Since then I am still here at Pilgården's, but now as a fully trained specialist in general medicine.

The statement is from Krister Åkesson who, despite his Swedish name and partial Swedish roots, grew up in Germany but decided to move to Sweden and establish a life in a new country. He applied for work here partly because of the training program with general and specialist internships that exists in Sweden, and which, since Krister came here, has been simplified for doctors from EU countries. After having worked as doctor's assistants for several months, all three were admitted to the Swedish medical training system.

- We knew some 'tourist Swedish' before we arrived, but the first six months went towards mastering the language and dialogue. After that, the language was no problem.

Krister's German accent when speaking Swedish is now barely noticeable and his language comprehension is one hundred percent.

- We tried to make Swedish friends even outside of work. Then we had children and became Swedish parents, says Krister and laughs.

Authority role

The couple encountered parental allowance and child care and Swedish friends and collegues as well as Swedish ways of working and routines.

- One difference between working as a specialist in general medicine in Germany compared with Sweden is that here we do not meet all our patients in person. Many visits and contacts occur with the nurse or over the telephone and as a doctor, I only get part of the journal entries. That is both good and bad.
In part the nurses do most of the work independently and in addition are the first point of contact for patients. In a situation without a doctor, they can direct a number of patients to other health care personnel who are trained and able to independently manage certain problems.

- As a doctor at a Swedish health care centre, it is also common to have a supervisor who is not a doctor.There are both advantages and disadvantages to that, states Krister. Executive work is administrative to a great extent, work that does not require medical training, while doctor resources are in short supply. At the same time, a doctor could contribute with a medical overview and strategic planning in a different way.

Another difference with Swedish health care is that it entails more contact with authorities and making decisions on behalf of authorities.

- Yes”, says Krister with a little laugh. Here you become temperance police and weapons inspectors. People would not allow that in Germany. Patient integrity and confidentiality are valued there in a different way. Contacts with the Social Insurance Agency is also based on another way of thinking. But you have to learn, quite simply.

Parental leave

And learning and adjusting is what the Åkesson family has done. Today the couple has three children, two in school and one in daycare. They live in a house on the outskirts of the industrial community of Degerfors. So far the children are just starting school, but the family has questions about how the schools work and whether the local schools can measure up to their desired level of quality. But Krister only has good things to say about Swedish child care:

- I drop off our two-year old at daycare in the morning and pick her up at two or two-thirty in the afternoon. Daycare is only a couple minutes' walk from my workplace. I am currently working 75 percent and am on parental leave 25 percent. I have been doing this since I returned from six months of full-time parental leave.

Krister's wife is a trainee specialist doctor and works at Karlskoga hospital. The working hours - daytime and very little requirement for on-call duty - has been a strong argument why one of them has opted for general medicine.

- If we both worked at the hospital, we would not have been able to maintain a family life”, says Krister. And today I don't understand how it might have worked out in Germany.

 Several picture of Krister Åkesson at work.

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Page revised Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Content Manager: Gunilla Merin Pettersson

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