Congratulation to Rabea Kashkeri for successfully completing his fellowship

In January of 2012, Rabea Kashkeri, a medical doctor from Jeddah, moved to Malmö in the south of Sweden, with his wife Awatef and daughter Lamar, to start his residency training in Psychiatry. After many years in Sweden the family, now expanded with one more daughter Syrine, will return home in August 2019.

We managed to have a little chat with Rabea to try to catch the essence of his training and life in Sweden.

First of all, tell us why you chose Sweden for your specialist medical training.

– Sweden is a country known for quality in many areas and when I started my search for a good place to do my specialist education, Sweden came up as a very interesting alternative. Back then, there were only a few Saudi doctors and dentists in Sweden, but I managed to get accepted at Skåne University Hospital and started my training in January of 2012. Today, we are a much bigger group of international doctors here at the hospital but also in many other hospitals and regions in Sweden.

Learning Swedish is essential for clinical work, patient contact and for integration into Swedish society. How did you manage this? And what was the biggest obstacle?

– Once in Sweden I began to study Swedish and the months that followed took me on quite an emotional journey. At first, I found the language to be pretty simple. After 3 months it seemed very hard. After 6 months, I thought that I managed it pretty well, but after 8 months, when I started my clinical training, I realized that I didn’t manage it at all. This was hard to accept, and I asked myself why I didn’t just quit and return home. But, after another 3 months everything felt ok again and today my Swedish skills are just fine. It takes hard work to learn any new language! Getting into Swedish society has been easy from the start. Sweden is a wonderful place to live in and the Swedish people are friendly and inviting. I´ve got many close friends here and it will not be easy to leave in August. I love Sweden and I hope that I will be able to visit as a tourist in the future.

You have lived in Sweden for about 8 years and are soon returning to Saudi Arabia with a Swedish specialist training in psychiatry and a sub-specialist training in mood and anxiety disorders. What context are you returning to and how do you think that your training will contribute?

 – I will return to Jeddah Psychiatric Hospital that I worked at before coming here. They are the reason that I´ve been able to do this since they have financed my training. I´m very grateful for the education system in Saudi Arabia where there is an option for medical doctors to do their training at home or abroad. I have a big network of colleagues that have trained in Canada, France, Germany etc. and we will use our common knowledge of the healthcare systems of these countries and use the best parts for Saudi.

What has been the most challenging part throughout your training period?

– I´ve had the best support from my colleagues and mentors at the clinic which of course is essential, and apart from the first 3 months, when everything was so new and I was shocked over how tough it was to manage the Swedish language, everything has worked out just fine. I´ve felt very welcome and have had great support from Skåne Care along the way.

What are the most profound differences between the Swedish and Saudi healthcare systems and how do you think that we can benefit from each other?

– The system in Sweden is not as hierarchic and even doctors fresh from school are expected to work independently. The education is built on a high level of integration between the university and the hospital, which means that the clinical training is as important as the theoretical one. This is one of the reasons that it is required to have at least two years of clinical experience before being able to apply for the training here.

To exchange cultural values, insights and experience between people and nations are always important. Insight gives new perspectives and possibilities.