EmilyJacobsonHTA StudyAbroad5/13/13 –6/4/13Swedish Culture and its impact on Healthcare
Table of Contents1. Churches in Sweden2. Religion in Sweden and Healthcare3. Swedish Signs4. Food in Sweden5. Surprising Aspects of Swedish Life6. Swedish Lifestyle and Healthcare7. Swedish People8. Swedish History and NationalIdentity9. Swedish Architecture
Churches in SwedenAs seen in the photo on my title slide, Stockholm waseasily navigated by the various towering church spires seen acrossthe city. The beautiful architecture seen here appeared to be thenorm along with certain universal design aspects such as theupraised pulpit seen below, the presence of a pipe organ locatedin the back balcony, and the traditional spires and arches.The churches seen here are from the Gamla Uppsala,the Sophiakyrkan, a local Catholic church in Jonkoping, andvarious churches around Stockholm.
Religion in Sweden and HealthcareWhile there were an abundance of beautiful churches inUppsala, Jonkoping, Stockholm, and Gothenburg, I discoveredthrough conversations with various Swedes and my ownattendance of a service at the Sophiakyrkan that religion is not amajor issue in Swedish life.During one of the events orchestrated by the Sushis at thelocal health park, I had the opportunity to befriend two Swedishstudents. We discussed multiple points of differences betweenSweden and the U.S. including religion. They explained that mostpeople are baptized as infants into the Church of Sweden but thatit has very little influence on daily life. This was confirmed later bythe Sushies Annie and Ida that they too did not care about religionand that most Swedes are not active in attending church orincorporating Christianity into their daily life.When I attended church in Jonkoping, the pews in theSophiakyrkan were relatively empty considering the enormity ofthe church and those in attendance were mostly middle-aged toelderly.From these encounters it seems that Christianity is respectedmore for its historical influence on Sweden. Regarding health care,many charitable health care institutions are ran by faith-basedorganizations in the US. These are nonexistent in Sweden sinceeveryone is covered by the government. From my observations,Sweden appears to be a post-Christian society and its health caresystem is not based off of Christian duty or ideology.Caption at Gama Uppsala onChristianity’s role in SwedenLocal Catholic Church inJonkoping, Sweden
The crown as seenin the Husqvarnasymbol isrespresentative ofthe Swedish threecrowns. They areseen everywhere.This sign is for ababy changingstation in a men’srestroom. With thelarge amount oftime given formaternity andpaternity leave,such signs are notuncommon.I came to Swedenwith themisconception that allSwedes would beblonde and blue-eyed. I quicklyrealized my mistake,but Swedishadvertisingconsistently illustratesmodel Swedes as so.Just for fun! However,1.5 million peopleSwedes are recentimmigrants out of thetotal population of9.2 million. Thegrowing diversity ofthe Swedishpopulation isillustrated in signs likethese.Swedish Signs
This first picture wastaken at the fishmarket in Stockholm.Fish was a verycommon plate inSweden. Swedes buylots of their food freshand unprocessed.Even their cafeteriafood had much moreselection for healthierunprocessed food.McDonald’s was on ofthe few chainrestaurants in theentire country. We ateat the restaurant seenin the second picture,Master …., the firstnight in Jonkoping.Most restaurants andcafes appeared to bestand-alone locallyowned businesses.A Vending Machine atthe Stockholm Airport- Please note that thereis no Dr. Pepper to beseen. I could not findany in the entirecountry. I don’t thinkSwedes realize whatthey’re missing!We ate San Marino’spizzeria on our firstSaturday in Jonkoping.According to Anthony,it was the best pizzahe’d ever had.Unfortunately, theowners would not tellus how to make thekebab sauce. The largenumber of immigrantsin Sweden has led togreat variety amongrestaurants.FOOD IN SWEDEN
Certain aspects of Swedish society surprised me, and these picture are demonstrative of that. ThroughoutJonkoping and Stockholm, we saw many fathers pushing baby carriages or carrying their children without thepresence of the mother. The government of Sweden actually offers monetary incentives if the husband and wife willsplit the time allotted for paternity and maternity leave equally, respectively six months each. This emphasis on theman’s role in child rearing is quite different from societal norms in the U.S.While walking everywhere in Jonkoping and Stockholm, I noticed all of the outdoor cafes provided blankets withtheir chairs. I would be hesitant as a business owner in the U.S. to leave blankets out at my restaurant tables for fearof them being stolen before the day is out. On the trip, one of the student left their cell phone in one of the subwaystations and then returned half an hour later to find it untouched. I think this speaks of the respect the Swedes havefor each other as well as a more collective mindset.The amount of smoking as well as the demographics of smokers vs. non-smokers was unexpected. This glasssmoking room was at the Stockholm airport. Throughout Jonkoping and Stockholm, I observed well-dressedbusinessmen and women smoking in public places. It appeared to be more acceptable to smoke in public placesthan in the U.S., and more upper class Swedes appear to smoke than their U.S. counterparts. The rise in smoking,obesity, and other unhealthy practices will lead to increased strain on the healthcare systems of both countries.I happily adopted the Swedish practice of fika. I loved how breaks were built into the days in Sweden to slowdown the business of the day. I think Americans would benefit greatly in terms of productivity and stress-levels if wetook small breaks for ourselves to fika.Surprising Aspects of Swedish Life
Lifestyle and HealthcareI chose these three pictures to illustrate how certainaspects of Swedish lifestyle are conducive for theworkings of their current health care system.Foremost, Swedes have a great sense of nationalidentity as well as trust in their national government.Swedish flags fly everywhere along with the threecrowns. This identity lends itself to the collective societyneeded to provide healthcare coverage for everyone.The second picture is not an abnormal sightanywhere in Sweden. Swedes bike everywhere and theyillustrate how sedentary Americans are. Since gasoline isso expensive, cars are not as prevalent. This moremobile lifestyle lessens the strain on the health caresystem. With greater mobility, obesity and otherproblems from lack of exercise decrease. This Swedishnorm acts as a form of preventive care by keepingpeople healthier longer.Apartment complexes in Sweden often take on thisuniform almost Soviet-style look. This emphasis onuniformity and conformity to the norm is found in allparts of Swedish society. Individual achievement is notcelebrated but actually looked down upon. Thiscollective viewpoint has enable the country to enact ahealthcare policy that cares for all parts of society.Conforming to societal norms, many of which promote ahealthy lifestyle, are visibly felt in this society. These andmany other attributes of Swedish culture contribute tothe success of the Swedish healthcare system.
Swedish PeopleFrom my observations and as depicted in the two toppictures on the right, elderly Swedes appear to be far moreactive and in better physical condition in comparison to theirAmerican counterparts. In most parks, exercise equipmentwas found and usually an older man or woman would beusing it. Prolonging healthiness and independence saveshealthcare systems untold billions of dollars each year.Even though I am not Swedish and neither are the sevenother member of the Health Teams Abroad team depictedbelow, this picture does include a Swedish nurse, Ms. AnnickaKoch. While the diversity in Swedish appearance wassurprising to me, blonde hair and blue eyes are two still veryprevalent traits. Ms. Koch’s hairstyle along with her hair andeye color are common in Sweden.In the bottom right picture, we are listening to JohnFlannigin who holds dual citizenship in Sweden and the U.S.He and his wife chose to live in Sweden to raise their children.Mr. Flannigin represents one of the 1.5 million Swedes whoare not native-born but who choose to live in a society thatcares for its own.
Swedish History and National IdentityThroughout Sweden, the three crowns and the yellow cross onthe Swedish flag could be seen everywhere. Also, artwork depictingfamous Swedish kings such as the sculpture of King Gustaf IIfounding Gothenburg or the painting of King Gustaf at the Vasamuseum seen here are just two examples of the many pieces wesaw. Everywhere, Swedish culture and history was celebrated and itwas obvious talking to Swedes that they were proud of theirheritage. This actually proved a problem when it came todiscussions on health care. For good reason, the Swedes are proudof their current system; yet they were reluctant to discuss theproblems facing them today. Only in our prosthetics and orthoticstalk with Australian-born Mrs. Ramstrand and our talk at theKarolinska Institute with U.S.-born Dr. Flannigin did we get to hearmore of the flaws in the Swedish healthcare system.Pride in the rich history of Sweden as well as displays of nationalidentity are a huge part of the collective society found in Swedentoday. As a history major, I thoroughly enjoyed learning of the richlong history of Sweden, and I am able to understand theirhealthcare system the better for it.
The Royal Palace inStockholmThe Lipstick Building inGothenburg17th century Church BellTower in JonkopingSwedish Architecture
Sweden was a beautiful place that I shall never forget. The proud heritage, collectivemindset, and healthy lifestyle all contribute to a culture that enables one of the besthealthcare systems in the world to thrive.View from aboat dockinJonkoping