How good is health care in Sweden

Foreign health systems: off to the far north

Stefanie Augenschein doesn't want to miss her four-week clinical traineeship in Sweden. Photo: private

Scandinavia has a good reputation among medical professionals. Anyone who works as a doctor in Northern Europe has regular working hours and usually earns better than in Germany. It's worth taking a look to the north: You can learn a lot from the pragmatism and looseness of the Scandinavians. Part 2: Scandinavia

Anyone who deals with the health systems of Sweden, Norway and Denmark quickly realizes that something is fundamentally different here. Yes, of course. In Scandinavia - unlike in Germany - the health care system is organized by the state and financed almost exclusively from taxes. The state designs and administers the system and controls health care based on medical criteria. That means: only those who are seriously ill receive immediate care.

Stefanie Augenschein also quickly noticed the differences to Germany. The 23-year-old completed a four-week internship in Sweden in late summer. She was in orthopedics at a hospital in Falun, Dalarna County, central Sweden. From her point of view, it is above all the working conditions that make the difference: “Working in Sweden is much more relaxed. The doctors are not as rushed and stressed as in Germany. ”There would always be time for a personal word. “The doctors manage their workload anyway,” says Augenschein, who is studying at the University of Regensburg in the 9th semester. Working hours are also regulated in the north: “It usually ends between four and five in the afternoon,” says the student. "And on Fridays everyone leaves at one o'clock."

In the Scandinavian healthcare system, the principle of equal treatment applies. The aim is to give the population equal access to health services regardless of their income. Private health insurances still play a subordinate role; they contradict the solidarity principle that has been practiced in Scandinavia for decades. High earners can also take out private insurance, but they are automatically included in the state system. In the event of illness, they can go to private institutions. Basically, however, clinics are state-owned, and practices are also state-funded.

Many German doctors look to the north with envy. In the 2010 MLP Health Report, a large opinion poll supported by the German Medical Association, 32 percent of the German doctors surveyed stated that Scandinavia could be a role model for the German system. Visual inspection can understand that. She is even considering working in Sweden for some time after graduating. Because the conditions are particularly attractive for women doctors. “In Sweden, full-time childcare is an integral part of working life. That makes you independent. ”Working part-time is also feasible. When doctors think about churning, salary certainly plays a role too. In Norway, for example, a hospital doctor earns an average of € 7,780 gross per month - but he also has to bear a correspondingly high tax burden.

However, the well-regulated state system in Scandinavia also has its downsides. The long waiting times for treatments have been criticized for years. Because the question of whether a patient gets a new hip joint and when it is used is not decided by the patient's complaints, but by the guidelines and capacities of the clinics. Critics accuse the Nordic countries that the state prioritization of treatments leads to two-tier medicine. Because the surgery appointment can only be accelerated for those who can go to a private clinic for treatment.

At first glance, one thing may deter a stay in the north of Europe: the language problem. But at least when it comes to Sweden, eyesight reassures us: “Knowing Swedish is not a must. If necessary, you can also use English. ”However, it is nicer to be able to speak at least a few words of the national language. Like a look: she learned Swedish for a few semesters at the university in Regensburg. That impressed my colleagues in Falun. It made an already warm welcome even more warm.

Nora Schmitt-Sausen

To-do list Scandinavia: the five most important things

1. Find a suitable location

After choosing the country, it is important to make a decision on an institution. The first point of contact are the international offices of the home university, because actually all universities have partnerships. If you are looking for direct contact with a Scandinavian university, the best thing to do is to contact the International Offices of the Student Advisory Service. Finding a hospital on your own can be tedious. Interest in foreign students varies greatly.

2. Funding: grants help

In addition to large pots such as the ERASMUS funding ( there are lesser-known scholarship providers to whom it is worth applying. For example, the medical finance center in Berlin ( Stays abroad for medical students. One thing you should know: life in Scandinavia is very expensive. The cost of living is significantly higher than in Germany.

3. Apply: plan your time

As always, a stay abroad must be well planned. For the Nordic countries, a lead time of one to one and a half years applies. Depending on what you intend to do, you will have to do educational work, because the Nordic countries, for example, do not know the practical year. This is an additional hurdle and at the same time means additional work for the German examination offices with regard to recognition.

4. The visa: country-specific regulations

Sweden and Denmark are members of the European Union. This makes a study or work stay with a view to the departure less time-consuming. The situation is different with Norway, which is not an EU member. With or without a visa requirement, specific residence regulations apply. The most reliable sources of information are the embassies of the respective countries in Germany: (Sweden), (Norway), (Denmark).

5. Essential: obtain a lot of information

If you are toying with a stay abroad in a country that is very different from Germany in terms of health system, language and culture, advance information is particularly important. There is a lot of interesting information on the subject of practical years, clinical traineeships and research abroad on the website There you can also find references to Germany-wide university lectures on the subject of “clinical traineeship and practical year abroad”.

Illustrations: Fotolia