Today I experienced my first doctor's appointment in Norway. I must admit I had been very nervous about it, wondering if I'd understand all of the medical language in Norwegian, would my doctor speak English etc.. But it went really well! :)
First a bit of information: When I finally got my person number in Norway I also received my tax card (skattekort) and surprisingly, a letter about how to go about getting a GP. There's a page online that you can log in to and see all the doctors in your community and which have available patient places. At first there were no women doctors available, but I waited a couple of months and places with a woman doctor became available, so I chose her as my GP (fastlege). You can change your GP, but I think you're only allowed to do that twice each calendar year, so its important to choose wisely.
Anyway, I had put off booking the appointment for a long time, but I decided I should just go and get it over with. I had to wait two weeks after booking the appointment to see the doctor. I'm not sure how the system works, my concerns weren't urgent so maybe they decided I could wait, and if you're very ill you get seen sooner or something.
When I got to the building, I said at the reception who I was, who my doctor was, when the appointment was for etc, and the woman told me to take a seat. I sat down and started to take a book out of my bag to read while I waited, when suddenly the doctor came out and asked me to come in! That was fast! :) She shook my hand, introduced herself, and then in English, asked how to say my name correctly. Then she asked if I spoke Norwegian and I said yes, and so we continued på norsk! :) And it went really fine! I felt relaxed and she spoke in a slow, clear way so I could understand everything she said and I knew I could always ask in English if there was something I didn't catch. We addressed all of my concerns and she gave me a one year prescription for the pill, which is the main reason I went there. I paid 180kr for the visit (about 24 euro) so it wasn't that expensive (the same visit would have cost 60 euro in Ireland!). All in all I was very satisfied, and left smiling and happy :)
The visit differed from an Irish doctor's appointment in the following ways: 1. The price. Even though Norway is super expensive, a doctor's appointment cost a third of what it would have cost in Ireland. 2. The doctor never took my blood pressure, something that struck me as odd considering I'm on the pill (I guess she was satisfied that my doctors in Ireland had been doing a good job and that seeing as I'd been on the pill so long that I had no outstanding health issues). 3. Waiting time. In Ireland you're typically waiting at least 5-10 minutes (sometimes up to 40) outside the doctor's office. Maybe I caught them on a good day today, but in general I've heard that this short waiting time is standard. 4. The approach to healthcare (as with many things in Norway) seems to be very natural. I had a few other concerns and the doctor said that I'm a healthy young girl, so there was no need to be worried about that particular problem etc. It seems like they're a bit reluctant to prescribe medication unless you really really need it, and are quite happy to let the body sort itself out. Which maybe is the way it should be :)