“Take a paracetamol”, getting sick in Holland

When you move abroad, everything changes – and that includes the type of care you’ll receive when you get sick. How do TU/e’s international students and staff feel about Dutch healthcare?

Industrial Design undergraduate Lorenzo Giunta (22) has experience with both the Italian and Dutch medical systems and says he prefers the warmth of Italian doctors: "I feel like in Holland they wait until they determine whether it’s statistically likely that you’re sick. Only then do they act."

Although there are a multitude of pluses to living in the Netherlands, the one thing many foreigners agree on is their universal dislike of visiting Dutch doctors. Amongst the expat community, there’s a common joke that goes something like this: "I had a sucking chest wound and my left leg had been severed below the knee. My huisarts [general practitioner] told me to take a paracetamol and call her back if I’m not better in two weeks." In other words, no matter the ailment – large or small – many foreigners complain that they feel under-cared-for in the Dutch medical system. Medicines aren’t prescribed as often in Holland as in other countries and requesting a referral to a specialist is almost a sure-fire way to elicit a dismissive chuckle from your otherwise reserved doctor.

Timothy Noel is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. And though he does have Dutch insurance (indeed every resident of the Netherlands is required by law to have it), he much prefers to head home when he’s ill. "The doctors in Belgium immediately explain what it is and you feel much better from that explanation. It comforts you. I really appreciate the psychological help that you get from a doctor in Belgium."

Do you also want to know more about what you can expect when you visit a Dutch doctor? Go check out SGE’s English-language information page. Arming yourself with a bit more information could go a long way in helping you feel comfortable with your Dutch doctor the next time you’re under the weather. But don’t throw away that box of paracetamol just yet. You’re going to need it.

Source: cursor.tue.nl
Editing for Eindhoven News: Chuan Nie

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  1. I have lived in the Netherlands for 20 years and can honestly say the healthcare that I have received here has been outstanding in everyway.Wonderful doctors and very good treatment in hospitals. Don’t be frightened to ask for or even demand what you need, after all you are paying for it.


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