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An Italian general practitioner tell us about her cross-cultural experience as a doctor

Graduated in Italy as a doctor, Doct. Cecilia Magris Barbazza is now an happy general practitioner in Luxembourg.  She gives her insights about her experience and usefull advises to people who might be interested in following the same carreer path. 

How long have you been in Luxembourg and what reason took you to this country?

Actually, I was born in Luxemburg. Then, from 2003 till 2010 I’ve been studying in Italy, where I attended the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery at the Studies University in Milan. I came back to  Luxembourg in October 2010, after the State examination.

In Italy I would have had to wait at least one year and a half to be able to make the entrance exam to my specialty, while in Luxembourg I could begin it straight away.
Considering that my family was still living here and that my husband found a job in Luxembourg, my moving back was rapid and painless.

When you came back to Luxembourg did you find any difficulties in the recognition of your professional experience, bachelor and master degrees?

I had no problem in the recognition of my qualifications. Perhaps, the only trouble was to find an official translator to turn the diplomas in French language (unfortunately the English version is not always enough). Besides that, if you have studied in a EU country, the procedure is simple, fast and clear and you can find everything you need on the Ministry of Health web site.

Can you tell us what are the advantages to practise your profession in Luxembourg?

Since it’s a liberal profession, you can organize yourself as you prefer (place of work, schedules, etc.) and this is an ideal solution if you have a family.
Unlike Italy, here in Luxembourg, the general practitioner is still recognized to have a central role in  the patient's care-taking process, both by the experts and the patient himself.

The contacts with the specialists and with the hospitals are rather straightforward and allow you to collaborate  to take care of the patient. Working in a small country facilitates access to courses and meetings organized by Belgian, French and German doctors and teachers, so in this way we can improve our competences.

The diversity of Luxemburg gives us the opportunity to interact with different cultures and different demands; this enriches us both on a personal and a cultural level and it allows us to speak different languages every day, improving our lexical knowledges.
Bureaucracy exists also here, but it isn’t so complicate as in Italy.

The patients don’t need to go to the general practitioner before going to an expert, but for this very reason they come more gladly to visit us, even just to have a first opinion or to ask some suggestion about their medical treatment. In this way, we build with the patient a relationship of complete trust and sometimes also of friendship.

And the disadvantages?

Here in Luxembourg even the general practitioner is a freelance therefore we have to pay a lot of taxes at the end of the year and I think that we have to work more than our Italian colleagues.
Honestly, at the moment, since I’ve been not working for too long as a doctor, I can’t find other disadvantages… on vas voir..

Do you think that Italian doctors have a different approach concerning patient care compared to their foreign colleagues?

I don't think that nationality has an impact in the approach with the patient. Instead, I think that everyone has his own personality and his way to do and that we act on the kind of patient we are looking at.

Every day we imagine that you have to take care of different people from different countries. Based on your professional experience, do you think that there are nationalities more exigent and that take their health more seriously than other ones?

In every nationality there are different patients profiles, we cannot generalize. But it is true that Mediterranean people (above all Italian, Greek and Portuguese) live with more anguish and worry their health, requiring more attention and involvement from their doctors.

What do you suggest to your Italian colleagues who want to come and work here in Luxembourg?

I suggest them to learn more languages as possible, to be able speak to people to different nationalities. I’d like to remember you that the official languages in Luxemburg are 3 and they are all important.

Tell us what you would miss of Luxembourg if you had to live the country tomorrow.

I think that I would miss a lot the diversity of this country and the opportunity to speak more different languages every day, a quality of life that elsewhere is difficult to find and the fact to live in a capital with an enviable position in the heart of Europe.

 Interview by Francesca Vantellini, membre of the JUST ARRIVED ambassador Club

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