Like any average Dutch person, I quite enjoy complaining about my country. It’s a national hobby that we collectively practice whenever we find something to be grumpy about. After all, we are going down the drain, we never ever will win the world football cup, it always rains here and the Dutch are always complaining.
However, there is one topic I will never complain about and that is our healthcare system. Doctors and nurses save lives all the time and they care when they can no longer help a patient. When my father died, one oncologist sent me a handwritten letter (who does that these days?) to tell me he had enjoyed his conversations with my dad, and another oncologist called me to wish me and my family well. These were doctors who lose patients every day and refuse to get used to it. I was impressed. I still am.
I know that many internationals find Dutch doctors to be cruel. Why? Because Dutch doctors will not prescribe medication every time you think you need it. “Come back in three days if the coughing has not gone.” Or worse: “This is just a bit of flu; happens to everyone” – when you think you’re about to die. You don’t want to be told you’ll be fine – you want attention. And antibiotics. In many countries doctors easily prescribe these, but not here. And as much as I sympathize with your excruciating headache and sore throat, these doctors are absolutely right not to give you any medicine. Why take expensive pills if you don’t need them? And it makes perfect sense to be careful with prescribing antibiotics as the bacteria can become resistant and the pills can lose their effectiveness.
My mother used to be a nurse in a home for elderly people. She once told me she had discovered the best medicine ever: whenever residents wanted medicine because they could not sleep, had a headache or stomach problems, she would give them a special pill that always worked. My mother was famous for this medicine, called ‘Placebo’. Major ingredient: attention. A true Dutch nurse!
Monique Mols, Corporate Communications, ASML