You might know that I’m keen on trying new things and I love being abroad. But if there is one thing I am terrified of, is getting sick. Getting sick while being abroad to be precise. Usually I’d wait to go back home to visit the doctor but, this time I couldn’t. I had to go to the doctor here in Sweden, and guess what…. It was an adventure!
I am rather healthy, and I rarely get sick. Nothing more than other people, a cold once in a while and that’s it. Cured with tea, sleep and rest – a painkiller once in a while and let’s move on. Which is perfect as I was fearing the moment I’d have to go to the doctor in Sweden!
You know, it is, this irrational fear that would just push me to wait as long as possible to go to the doctor. So, usually I manage going back home and then go to the doctor or dentist while in France. Because, let’s face it, speaking the language perfectly and knowing how the system works back home is way more reinsuring!
As said, this time I couldn’t wait till the next trip home and had to experience the Swedish health care system. Which I heard not only good things about – makes you feel even better right?! 😂
Using an App
So here is my all time favourite thing about Sweden. You can download an app on your phone (doktor.se in my case), where you can casually chat with a nurse. When needed, you can even have an “appointment” via FaceTime with a doctor. Of course, I texted a nurse, who texted me back in English – after a few minutes.
I could explain her what was happening, and it was nothing urgent so I didn’t feel pressured to go to the doctor anyways. To be honest, it was the perfect thing because I didn’t have to go to the doctor but I could still get in touch with a nurse. In my case it was the perfect compromise.
After a while she sent me to the hospital (thing I didn’t understand cause my Swedish vocabulary doesn’t contain any medically related words). That’s the biggest drawback of using the app, the nurse doesn’t know how severe is your condition.
Anyways, I went to the hospital, which sent me away as I had no fever or nothing too bad. They just told me to call a number for “unimportant emergencies”. Basically, what you have won’t kill you! So, I called the number, and once again, no fever, so no help. And here is the point where I got super desperate! If the hospital doesn’t help you – who will?
I got home and tried to book online an appointment at our local medical centre (vårdcentral). Of course, not one time slot was available for me. After some research, I learned about the trick. As the medical centre opens at 8AM, and if you need an appointment, you need to call them at 8 sharp! After the call, I got an appointment for a couple of hours later with an actual doctor.
Then, I finally got to meet the doctor, and she decided to run all kind tests to make sure everything was alright. And thankfully it was! All in all, I paid 200kr (about 20€) for everything. The results came back after a couple of days, and the doctor called me on my phone twice over the following 2 weeks to follow-up.
What I’d like you to know is, no matter what people are saying about vårdcentral in Sweden, you need to experience it yourself. Then, you can make your opinion about it. In addition, I believe it is everywhere the same, as soon as you deal with people some are more professional than others. More reactive or more caring, and it all depends on how you will present the situation on the phone or at the centre.
Another tip would be to look a bit outside of the city centres. The doctors’ offices there are less crowded and so you have more chances to get an appointment in the next few hours. Lastly, if you call your vårdcentral, you might have an automatic message there, in this case, just input your personnummer, and they will call you back shortly!
So, here is my story and experience when having to go to the doctor in Sweden. Even without speaking Swedish you can make your way around it. It definitely won’t be as easy as back home, but for sure you’ll make it!