Monday, March 2, 2009

Girls, what's missing from this picture?

Nothing makes it clear to you that you're in a totally different country, and culture, than getting an inside view into it's healthcare system. And, when you're a woman, the contrasts can be quite stark.

Let me start off by saying that this is not a complaint. In fact I've been relatively happy with the healthcare I've received so far here in Ireland. But, today ladies, I bit the bullet and went in for my "women's exam" and let me tell you, Ireland is a very different place than I'm used to.

I think it would help if I highlighted the differences by phrasing this in terms of what was absent or missing from the usual (i.e., American) picture:
  • No demand to see your insurance card, because there isn't one.
  • No paying up front before you even get in to see the doctor. (Yes, you do have to pay afterwards. This is Ireland, not paradise!)
  • No huge sheaf of papers to sign and disclaimers to approve in the vain hope of avoiding the inevitable lawsuits.
  • No waiting around while your doc rotates between you and 3 other people at the same time. One at a time, baby!
  • No extended contact with the nurse prior to your precious few minutes with the doc. No nurse, the doc does it all!
  • No being forced to wear a ridiculous paper gown that leaves you exposed, shivering and feeling grossly inadequate... because nothing but the most minimal stripping occurred (I was wearing a skirt so only undies went).
  • No privacy during the stripping that did occur. She just turned her back. (Now picture me with dumbfounded look on my face and quite a few seconds delay while it slooowly occurs to me what I'm expected to do).
  • No nurse in the room as the doc's insurance and proof against possible accusations. Ahh, the innocence. The trust!
  • No stirrups!
  • No fancy wipes afterward :-(
What was there was a kind yet authoritative demeanor by a skilled clinician with a fantastic bedside manner. All in all, an interesting but generally positive experience.


Anonymous said...


I'm glad it was a positive experience. I've read up on this place called the Well Woman's Centre (I believe?), and that's probably where I'll wind up at some point during my stay.

I laughed at no nurse in the room. Unheard of here! Ah, the differences.

Niamh Griffin said...

happy you had a good experience, it's never a fun thing really! The not-stripping off thing is great though , i was never a fan of walking through corridors in paper clothing !

Sirmelja said...

So true, G. I guess this is just a less lawsuit-prone place to practice. Lucky doctors!

Niamh, I totally agree about the perils of paper clothing :-)

Anonymous said...

LOL - I love the directions too. "Now just slide your heels together and make a... butterfly." Ah the hearts and rainbows take on internals!

Sirmelja said...

Oh no! I didn't get the hearts and flowers instructions, just the intending-to-be-reassuring, "we're all women here". Bummer :-(

AML said...

I loved when I was in the UK and the GP sent me an "invitation" for a smear test - they sounded very keen! And when I did go, they had postcards of the English country side taped to the ceiling!

Sirmelja said...

They're just so freakin' polite here! :-)

Shes not from Yorkshire said...

Hey hey!
We are 3 American expats in England, approaching 30. We like to rant sometimes too. We love your blog as we're getting your perspective from the Irish side of things! Funnily enough I just posted about my love of the NHS of Britain... ummm, free contraception that is! Come visit!

Sirmelja said...

Hi fellow women blogger expats! :-) Actually, your blog is already a fave of mine (see blogroll). Sadly, the NHS does do some things better than the HSE over here. Ours isn't free :-(

Emerging Writer said...


A smear test is now free in Ireland and has been for months. You should ask. I love the idea of postcards taped to the ceiling. I had a dentist did that once

Expatriate CPA said...

Haha Interesting!