Doctors Hasan Bitar, Abdulhamid Al Tamer and Taiser Al Kasem from Syria are taking part in the course on medical Swedish. Photo: Carina Holmberg / Sveriges Radio.

Project offers Swedish lessons to train foreign doctors

"I've been here for three months and I don't know any Swedish"
1:45 min

Health officials in Västra Götaland are investing in a new project to quickly train physicians arriving as refugees from Syria in the Swedish language.

Sweden needs more doctors. In Västra Götaland alone, for example, the county lacks of nearly 200 trained doctors to meet their needs.

Most of the doctors arrived as asylum seekers and don't have the necessary vocabulary to practice medicine in Sweden. The language barrier both keeps them out of a job and hinders the county from tapping a local source of healthcare workers.

Taking part in the project is Hasan Bitar, a surgeon from Syria who's eager to get back to work.

"I've been here for three months and I don't know any Swedish," he says.

In addition to learning Swedish, the courses will help the newly arrived fill out the necessary paperwork to have their medical licenses approved in Sweden. Officials say the project will benefit the county in more ways than by just adding more doctors.

Ulla Ekström is spearheading the project in Västra Götaland. She says the region see these doctors as an vital resource and has already located some 40 Syrian doctors in various refugee centers.

"Both to their background and professional skills are an asset," she says.

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