During the past few years, the interest among foreign residents in doing their residency in Sweden has increased remarkably. Among other things, this is noticeable in the number of enquiries received by Swedish HealthCare.
– Swedish care solutions are attractive abroad, the problem right now is to find places in a program for all of those interested in coming here, says Nils Persson, founder of Swedish HealthCare. Together with Staffan Rosenborg, Senior Consultant at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, he now encourages more Swedish clinics to accept foreign students.
Accepting foreign residents is stimulating and developing, both professionally and personally. This is the opinion of Staffan Rosenborg, Senior Consultant and Head of the Clinical Pharmacology Trial Unit at the Department of Clinical Pharmacology at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Stockholm.
For the past two years, Staffan Rosenborg has been supervising Alaa Falemban. Alaa came to Sweden from Saudi Arabia approximately two years ago to do her residency in the field of Clinical Pharmacology.
This is the first time the department welcomes a foreign resident, says Staffan Rosenborg. It has been two very exciting years. Enriching and challenging at the same time.
– It’s tremendously exciting to guide a person from an entirely different educational system. But it’s also a responsibility that requires an interest in being a tutor and the willingness to spend the extra time studying the cultural differencies at hand. If you do this, being a tutor is an immensely enriching task.
The department of Clinical Pharmacology at KI in Huddinge is the largest in Sweden. Thanks to its width it is also one of the most complete departments in the world.
Ever since his time as Head of residents and Director of the residency programme, Staffan Rosenborg’s vision has been to create the world’s best specialist programme within the field of Clinical Pharmacology.
– There are large differencies in how departments of Clinical Pharmacology are organized throughout the world. The most common scenario is that you excel at a specific thing, for example antibiotics, toxicology or clinical research. At Karolinska we cover the whole spectrum which means a wider and more complete organization, consulting as well as laboratory, than most other departments of Clinical Pharmacology, explains Staffan Rosenborg.
He can see only advantages with accepting foreign residents.
– It’s definitely a large asset, not least considering the fact that we have many Arabic-speaking patients in our hospitals. We have even been able to use Alaas linguistic skills in teaching our students. Apart from this, you cannot disregard the fact that it means an extra pair of hands and an extra mind in the daily work.
The biggest challenge so far has been the language. Before Alaa Falemban started her clinical training, she studied the Swedish language for five months. In addition to the language course she has had the support of a private teacher of Swedish who has adapted the training to her specific needs at the clinic. All of this has been organized by Swedish HealthCare, says Staffan Rosenborg.
He describes the system as a win-win situation and does not hesitate to recommend other clinics to welcome foreign residents.
– You get so much in return.
”The best time of my life”
After several years of intense medical studies in her homeland Saudi Arabia, Alaa Falemban decided to do her residency in Clinical Pharmacology abroad. She looked into the possibilities of doing so in USA and Canada but finally decided on Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. The width and quality of the Swedish training was what finally tipped the scale. Two years into her Swedish training, Alaa is pleased with her decision.
– This is the best time of my life. I see it as a reward for all the years of studying and also as the best gate of entry to my future career, personally as well as academically.
Clinical Pharmacology does not exist as a speciality of its own in Saudi Arabia. According to Alaa Falemban, who is from Makkah, a city of 1.5 million inhabitants, she is one of only four Saudi Arabian doctors who have chosen to specialise in this field. In other words, the need for increased knowledge within the field of Clinical Pharmacology is vast, says Alaa Falemban.
Alaa Falemban heard of Sweden through a childhood friend who had chosen Sweden for her residency. Even if the will and incentive was there, it was a big step to leave her home country, says Alaa Falemban.
– It’s my first time abroad. In the beginning many things felt awkward, everything from language to practical things like visa and accommodation.
Now she is properly settled and feels safe, both in her private life – with her husband and their two children who go to a Swedish-Arabic school – and at work.
– Swedish HealthCare has been very supportive of me the whole time. If I have had any questions or if I have needed any help I have been able to turn to them.
When her studies are completed, Alaa Falemban will return to Saudi Arabia. That is a part of her contract with the Saudi government who are paying for her education.
Her dream is to be a part of establishing the country’s first ever specialised department of Clinical Pharmacology. Maybe as a branch to Karolinska in Huddinge.
Name: Alaa Falemban
Family: Husband and two children, 8 and 9 years old.
Position: Through Swedish Healthcare, Alaa has been given the opportunity to do her residency in Clinical Pharmacology at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge