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. This time I couldn’t wait till my next trip home so I had to go to the doctor here in Sweden, and guess what, it was an adventure!
Some background info, I am rather healthy, and I rarely got 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’m super scared 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, and so, usually I manage going home and then go to the doctor or dentist back in France. Because, let’s face it, speaking the language perfectly and knowing how the system works back home is way more reassuring!
But yes, 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?! 😂
So here is my all time favorite thing about Sweden, is that you can download an app on your phone (doktor.se in my case), where you can casually chat with a nurse and ask if you actually need to see a doctor or if a call or FaceTime is enough. So of course, I texted a nurse, who texted me back – all in English – after a few minutes, and so 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, and 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), and 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, and just told me to call a number for “unimportant emergencies” (you know what I mean – something that won’t kill you!), which I did 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?
So I got home and tried to book online an appointment at our local medical care center but it was of course unavailable, and here is the trick: it opens at 8AM, so if you want an appointment, just call at 8 sharp! And I got an appointment after a couple of hours with an actual doctor.
Then, I got to meet the doctor, and she decided to run all kind of blood tests and other tests to make sure everything was alright. And thankfully it was! All in all I paid 200kr for everything, got the results 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 that no matter what people are saying about vårdcentral in Sweden, you need to experience it yourself and you will 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, it all depends on how you will present the situation on the phone/office. Another tip would be to look a bit outside of the city centres, the doctors’ offices might be 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, and 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! And for the paperwork related to the health care system, check my previous article just here!