Our dentist Flavia Baña Piñeiro (1986), studied Dentistry at the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio in Madrid. Now she works in the Netherlands as a general dentist in Tandartspraktijk Brummelhuis, in the east of the country.
I have always been very much in love with my country, my city and the lifestyle we have. Unfortunately, with the current situation that we are facing in Spain, it was impossible to continue studying, growing professionally or have good working conditions. Working abroad was the only way in which I could achieve all of these things. Therefore, I sent my resume to different job portals in several countries. I received several replies but I decided to come to Holland because of the working conditions and the treatment I got from DPA Dentistry. There is a shortage of dentists in the Netherlands, so dentists are urgently needed.
The possibilities regarding professional growth are tremendous. Dutch language was also a challenge that I wanted to face.
How did you adapt to life in the Netherlands?
At first I thought that I would never get used to it. The grey days, the schedules, the food, people’s way of being, etc. Then you discover how comfortable it is to finish a working day at 5PM, that apart from grey days there are also some sunny ones that you value more than before, that eating bitterballen, patat or stamppot are not so bad, and that people are direct (which is at first a bit of a shock to a Spaniard) but you get used to it.
Would you advise newly qualified Spanish dentists to leave Spain?
Of course, without hesitation. They currently have nothing to gain from the working conditions in Spain. In Holland, the treatment with the patient is totally different and they have a high concept of our profession. They respect us as a professional.
What does a regular work day look like?
My day starts at 8:30 in the morning and ends at 5PM, with two 15-minute coffee breaks and another 1-hour lunch break at noon. On Wednesdays after work I go to Dutch classes to improve my language skills; I want to take the exam to obtain the official diploma. In the weekends, there are always plans, there are many fellow Spaniards here, and in the end they become a second family because we are all in the same situation. Friendship with someone Dutch is always more complicated than we are used to, but you can always break the ice, and the people are very hospitable.
Do you find many differences between the oral health habits of the Spanish and Dutch populations?
Not particularly: it depends a lot on the area. I work in the east of the country and perhaps they do not have as much concern for aesthetics as in Spain or in larger cities like Amsterdam. So there are small variations such as the recommendation to brush the teeth 2 times a day instead of 3 after meals due to the working days that they have here. What I do find is that Dutch people drink a lot of energy drinks and drinks with high sugar content and that affects a lot their dentures.
In relation to dental health systems in the Netherlands and Spain, in what aspects do they differ?
In Holland everything is very regulated. There are no private faculties of Dentistry and very few dentists graduate each year in comparison with Spain. Here everything works by means of medical insurance and the rates are fixed for all, so there is no competition. It also helps a lot to work for a dentist who understands you as a dentist, something that happens little in our country.
Do you know the curriculum of Dentistry in the Netherlands? Do you find many differences with Spanish?
I do not know their exact program, but it can not differ too much when the Spaniards do not have to do any type of validation process for their title. At the level of knowledge, what I see with respect to my other colleagues is in the same line; we differ only slightly in the use of medicines.
Finally: Do you have plans to return to Spain one day?
Never say never: we never know what the future holds. The truth is that the country is treating me very well and I am growing a lot personally and professionally. It would be great to be able to enjoy these conditions in my country; of course I will never close that door entirely shut.