During the pandemic in 2020 Fábio got in contact with Rita, BGB’s dental advisor, after seing a post she had placed on social media for Portuguese dentists.
Not long after a few conversations online between Fábio, and Arjen and Sebastian from BGB, both parties agreed to cooperate. For BGB, it was an unusual recruitment procedure, since, before the pandemic, they had always had face-to-face contact with a candidate at least once before a decision was made. But desperate times asked for desperate measures, and those weird and uncertain times helped Fábio make the decision to leave Portugal.
We are glad to have him as part of our BGB Dentists.
In this interview, Fábio tells us about why he moved from Portugal to Holland.
1. Why did you decide to leave Portugal and live abroad?
After finishing my graduation in 2014, I had the chance to work in a few clinics in my own country. While I really enjoyed performing the treatments I had learned and the interaction with patients, I always had the feeling that all the effort I put into my education was not being rewarded. I remember feeling stuck, having few opportunities to further improve myself as a dentist.
This feeling got a lot worse in 2020 with the arrival of the corona virus. Many clinics had to close their doors due to government policies and a good number of patients decided to put their oral health on hold in fear of potentially being infected.
I decided then to look for a new challenge outside the borders of my own country and ended up finding BGB.
2. What made you decide to move to The Netherlands? What did you hope to find here? Did you consider any other countries?
In Portugal, there are way too many dentists, so while I was still in Uni, there was already a lot of talk about working abroad. Our professors would even encourage it. At the time I was already aware of a shortage of dentists in the Netherlands, Sweden and a few other countries.
When it was time to make a decision, I was torn between a few options: the Netherlands, UK and Luxemburg. Finding BGB made making that decision easier because I found their project very interesting. While I was not very knowledgeable about the Netherlands and the Dutch culture, I did have a positive impression.
My number one priority was being able to work in a country where my profession was valued, and in the Netherlands I found that to be the case for sure!
3. How did you find out about BGB?
I found BGB’s website just by doing online research. After reading through all the information available I still had some questions, so I decided to schedule a meeting/interview.
4. Looking back, how did the selection process go?
At the time, the whole planet was still in lockdown due to the corona virus so everything happened online. I first had a meeting with one of the recruiters, Arjen, where he explained how the whole BGB process works, and he was very kind to answer all my questions. After that, I had a nice talk with Rita, a fellow dentist, who was able to give me more information about the technicalities related to being a dentist in the Netherlands. To round the selection process up, I had a final meeting with Sebastian, where I got to hear that I was accepted into the BGB team.
5. Did you have any doubts regarding the Netherlands? And any doubts regarding BGB Dentistry?
I felt very confident about BGB and their project but I did wonder if I would be able to adapt to the Dutch culture. Learning Dutch also seemed, at the time, a very difficult challenge and I was afraid I would never be able to become fluent enough to hold a conversation. I did not know a single word of Dutch and I had never been to the Netherlands, so everything was completely new to me!
6. Was that also the aspect of the process that you felt the most unsure about?
Yes! To a dentist, being able to communicate with the patient is essential. I think being very motivated helped a great deal because in the end it went a lot more smoothly than I had expected.
7. Looking back at the whole experience until now, how do you look at the whole program and the help of BGB? What went well and what could have gone better?
I remember fondly the months I spent learning Dutch, first online and then in beautiful Seefeld in Tirol, Austria. Getting to know colleagues from all over Europe, many of them with the same fears and insecurities I had at the time was priceless. It really did feel like I was part of a big family!
Looking back, I can say that the whole process went pretty much as I had expected and BGB fulfilled everything that was promised.
8. Which advantages did you feel at the clinic after following our program?
I had two very important advantages: knowing exactly in which clinic and city I would be working/living, and having a meeting with the owner before I arrived in the Netherlands. When I started working, all my colleagues were aware of my situation and were very welcoming/helpful.
9. In your own experience, how does Dutch dentistry compare to that of Portugal? Are there many differences?
The procedures are, of course, pretty much the same, but there are two very important differences.
In the Netherlands, the patients are more conscious of the importance of oral health and much more knowledgeable. They are very direct and do not shy from asking questions.
While in Portugal, each provider of dental care may decide for themselves how much they want to charge, here in the Netherlands, it’s the government that decides how much a certain treatment/procedure should cost. That has both advantages and disadvantages.
10. Do you enjoy your life and work in the Netherlands?
I really enjoy my life here in the Netherlands; I got to experience for the first time riding a bike to work! I love how everything is nicely organized and how easy it is to take care of most issues online. The Netherlands being a small country with a prime, central location, it’s very easy to travel around and getting to know new places/countries.
While in Portugal I would have to work from 9 am to 7 pm, 40 hours a week to have a decent salary, here I am already home at around 5:30 pm. I end up working fewer hours and having a lot more free time. That is priceless!
I do believe that sometimes Dutchies are a bit too strict or direct, which can result in less positive experiences. The weather is probably the main negative point however, as you can never know what to expect.
11. To whom would you advise The Netherlands and/or our program?
I would advise the Netherlands and BGB to young dentists who are struggling in their own countries. It’s an amazing country to work in and to gain experience as a dentist. The clinics are well equipped and offer many opportunities. Constant learning and education are strongly promoted and, in many cases, free of charge.
Colleagues who are less willing to learn Dutch and speak it the whole time or who are not really that flexible would probably have a hard time here, however.
12. If there is a dentist right now who is studying somewhere in Europe, but already knows they want to work in the Netherlands, what would you recommend them to do?
Now that the epidemic is over and we can travel freely again I would advise them to spend a couple of days here. Get to know the country, language and culture! That’s the best way to know for sure if the Netherlands is indeed a good option for them.