Norway. Norway? Why Norway? The magical, mystical land of the north. The home of the Vikings. That small, expensive country with lots of snow and fjords. Those people who are so darn good at cross-country skiing in the Olympics. Those folks who eat whale, hunt seals, and walk up mountains just to ski down them. This is one country I’ve always wanted to visit. Once again, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit for academic purposes.
The opportunity came about through equal parts serendipity and knowing the right people. The story began last year at Castlefest (an ultrasound conference in Lexington, KY) where I was introduced to an anesthesiology resident from the town of Tromsø in the far north of Norway – which is what put Norway on my radar. So, time passes and the idea to visit comes up, and we asked one of our professors if he would reach out to his Norwegian friends on our behalf. He sent one email and within 2 hours we had 4 different offers from his friends in Norway. We found some cheap flights ($440 round trip!) and were set to go.
The plan was to spend 17 days in Norway, hopping around between cities and visiting with friends. Although it would have been nice for the trip to have been purely vacation, we did add some educational and research experiences. In exchange for hosting us while in Norway, we agreed to help spread some ultrasound love and do some teaching with our various hosts. Thus, our itinerary was set. First to the small town of Larsnes, on the west coast, 2 hours south of Ålesund, to visit Asta, an incredibly enthusiastic general practitioner. Next to central Norway ski town of Oppdal for the annual Oppdalsuka medical conference – a 2 week long grab bag of topics for the general practitioner – where we would help teach small group hands-on ultrasound sessions. Finally, to Tromsø in the far north to visit Pål, an anesthesiology resident, who has planned for us to get involved in some really cool flight shifts on an air ambulance.
As I mentioned in my initial post, Norway is an interesting study when it comes to healthcare. They have high spending per patient, but they also have really good outcomes to show for it. When compared to my experiences with healthcare in Central America and India, Norway is in a league of its own (which should come as no surprise for a first-world nation). I’m looking forward to being able to dissect their healthcare system a little bit as I am expecting a lot of parallels to the U.S. system.