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.

-Sirmelja- Ireland, March 2009

originally posted March 2, 2009 at

*For more information on Sirmelja’s experiences in Ireland please visit: