Medical exchange students felt very welcomed by West River, Hettinger community

Though their time in Hettinger may be over, the experience and memories will be with them forever.

Børje Andre Cronbald Andersson (Left) and Krister Tyssen Johnson (Right) will be spending five weeks at West River Health Services through the Norwegian Medical Student Exchange Program and the University of North Dakota School of Medicine. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Record)
Børje Andre Cronbald Andersson (Left) and Krister Tyssen Johnson (Right). (Record File Photo)

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor |

Fifth year medical students Børje Andre Cronbald Andersson and Krister Tyssen Johnson recently finished their six-week medical exchange program with West River Health Services. The program is facilitated by the University of North Dakota and this was the second time West River has welcomed students to Hettinger.

In talking about their experience as a whole, Johnson said “it’s been great.” He praised both the community and hospital staff for being so welcoming, and appreciated how genuinely interested people were in them and their Norwegian culture.

“The we we’ve been welcomed here it’s been great,” Johnson said. “They’re (Hettinger community) very kind.”

Andersson said he knew there would be a strong Norwegian heritage in this part of the country, but he was surprised to find out how close people were to having relatives actually born in Norway.

The two couldn’t have been more impressed with the facility. The size and amenities that West River provides is something you wouldn’t see in Norway in a town the size of Hettinger.

“The facility here, West River Health Services, it really impressed us,” Johnson said. “It’s a great facility.”

“A small place like this in Norway, you just dream of an MRI,” Andersson said.

Johnson also cited the efficiency of the hospital and clinics as another thing that impressed him. Andersson mirrored that sentiment and said something like a knee injury would take three months for an MRI in Norway for a diagnosis. In Hettinger it could take as little as a half an hour, Andersson said, of his experience.

Bedside manner of the West River physicians is practice the two medical students will try to take back to Norway with them. Johnson thought it was very nice to have the doctors spend so much time with their patients, explaining things to make sure they understood everything before they left the facility.

Getting acclimated to the insurance process was something new for them. In Norway healthcare is built in to their tax system. So residents of Norway don’t have to worry about paying for their healthcare services because it is already taken care of through paying their taxes.

One of Johnson’s favorite part of the six-week experience was meeting the people, reiterating how welcoming the community was.

“I didn’t expect that we would be that welcome here,” Johnson said. “It surprised me.”

Andersson said he wish they could have rented a car to explore the area, but due to the lack of services, they were only able to go out one weekend when someone lent them a vehicle.

One of the bigger surprises for Andersson was the gap between the two cultures (American and Norwegian). He thought he had a grasp on American ways from movies, television and other media outlets, but when he got here he learned it wasn’t exactly the same.

Johnson hopes to bring back some of the physician’s bedside manner. The fact that they take time and listen and explain things to their patient is something he hopes to practice in Norway.

“I want to be the kind of doctor that we’ve seen here,” Johnson.

The two medical students said they would recommend the experience to future Norwegian medical students. Especially if they want to learn more about America and the healthcare system here.

Both wanted to thank everyone in Hettinger for making it a good experience for them, they wanted to included all the community members, hospital staff, and the individual patients they saw and allowing them to help progress their medical education.