Visiting a doctor in a foreign country can be pretty stressful, and cultural differences become more pronounced when people are upset. As an expat and frequent traveler, I have had many such experiences, including suspected malaria in India, an operation in Guatemala and a dentist visit in Colombia.
From the side-lines, I have been a pre-hospital emergencies consultant in many other countries and the brother of a GP based in Spain. Far from making me an expert, these real life episodes have given me an objective and tongue-in-cheek view on the health care system at home, in the Netherlands.
The first port of call in the Dutch medical care system is the office of the General Practitioner (GP), the huisarts. This person is the strict gatekeeper for all of your medical needs that are not immediately life-threatening. Some, who think they need a specialist, see the GP as a roadblock, whereas others see him or – increasingly – her as a trusted family friend. Either way, a GP must not be underestimated; even though he may not be wearing a white coat, he/she is a specialist in general matters. Read more….