Life as a Physician-Parent in Sweden

Sweden boasts a very high quality of life and offers many social supports that make life a bit easier, especially for families. Here I share what it is like to work as a physician-parent in Sweden.

To learn more about transitioning to Sweden, check out the Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Sweden.

Swedish Physician Salary

A physician salary is lower in Sweden compared to the United States, particularly for procedural specialties. Salary during residency is higher in Sweden than in the US, but the increase in salary after completing training is much less. The average monthly salary for a physician is SEK 77,900 (USD 8,532). With a lower average salary, a large US medical school debt would be hard to pay back.

I worked as an attending in the US and in transitioning to Sweden I am currently completing my year of Swedish residency. I earn about 5,000 USD a month.

Work Culture

Work is typically more relaxed in Sweden – the medical hierarchy is not as prominent, and residents and attendings work more as peers.  

Physicians work 40 hours a week, both in training and as attending, and most residencies are typically 5-years long. On-Call time is compensated, both monetarily through a higher hourly rate and by contributing to increased vacation time.

Social Supports and Benefits

Sweden has a strong social security system to support families. These benefits include 480 days of parental leave per child, 240 days for each parent. Parents are expected to take this leave, hence there are no daycares for children younger than a year old. It is normal and expected that doctors – regardless of gender and if they operate or not – take about 9-12 months off to stay home when their children are born.

“It is normal and expected that doctors – regardless of gender and if they operate or not – take about 9-12 months off to stay home when their children are born.”

Daycare is heavily subsidized by the government. I pay a total of 200 USD per month for child care for my three children spanning ages 3 to 8 years old. Sweden provides paid leave to stay home with a sick child, Vard Av Barn (VAB). If your child is sick, a physician’s clinical duties are cancelled or redistributed, and the physician-parent will stay home, and still get paid. This is normal and expected and both physician colleagues and patients understand.

“I pay a total of 200 USD per month for child care for my three children spanning ages 3 to 8 years old.”

Everyone in Sweden has the right to 5 weeks of vacation per year, of which four has to be given in a row in the summer, if the employee so wishes. This means that most doctors in specialties that take call will have significantly more time off than the 5 weeks of vacation. I would say that for physicians who take call, they will likely accrue 10-12 weeks of vacation per year. Other benefits include free health care, free dental care for children, and free education including university.

Family Life in Sweden

When my family moved to Sweden, my three children were already proficient in Swedish, though English was definitely the stronger language. Swedish schools for young children are more relaxed compared to the United States and my children have integrated well into the local school. Our children spend a lot more time outside playing in the school forest, sledding, ice skating, and much less time doing busy work.

For children who are not fluent in Swedish, schools offer Swedish as a Second Language classes and school children learn English starting in the second grade. Additionally, Swedish schools must offer maternal language tuition. My children have an English tutor, one hour a week, who teaches more advanced English, while my Arabic and Uzbek-speaking friends have Arabic and Uzbek language tutors for their children.

Bottom Line

For me, being Swedish with Swedish medical school and American residency training, it was a fairly smooth ride to move back home. Was it worth it – yes! Living close to family, having a less stressful family life, and sharing the opportunity for my surgeon husband to stay home with snotty or vomiting kids is worth the decrease in pay.

“You won’t need that fancy attending car – in Sweden the aspirational physician lifestyle means biking to work…”

As a physician, you don’t move to Sweden to become rich, but you may end up with a better quality of life and enough money to live comfortably. You won’t need that fancy attending car – in Sweden the aspirational physician lifestyle means biking to work –  but if you really want you can still afford a Tesla.

To learn more about transitioning to Sweden, check out the Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Sweden.

Dr. Sofi Asmundsson is a Swedish and American citizen and author of the Ultimate Guide to Practicing Medicine in Sweden. She completed medical school in Sweden and pediatric residency in the US. She worked for a couple years in the US as an attending general pediatrician in the ED and as a neonatal hospitalist. She lives in Sweden with her family and is completing her 1 year of Specialisttjänstgöring (ST). Her husband is an American born and trained general surgeon who is going through the process outlined above. 

Previous

Next

Hippocratic Adventures Favicon

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This