Chemist drove bus while waiting for his qualifications to be recognised
Yasser, a Syrian pharmacist, graduated in 2001 from Yaroslavl State Medical University in Moscow and returned to Syria to open his own chemist's shop. There his work was transformed in the course of ten years from a job to a passion that made him take a personal interest in his customers.
Six years ago he came to Sweden and struggled to have his qualification as a pharmacist recognised.On the way to his goal he tried to learn something else in order to be financially independent and avoid having to take a student grant.
”It's all about hope, you must do your best no matter what your age, where you are or what the demands are”Mohammed Yasser Hawi
– Bus driver. I needed a job that was physically demanding but which did not require a high academic qualification. During my time at university I used to take the bus from home to the university and back,since then I've liked bus-driving, but I didn't consider getting a bus -driver's licence.
– I applied to the Job Centre and started learning to be a bus-driver while working at the same time towards my goal of becoming a fully-qualified pharmacist.
– It wasn't easy, but after a year of studying I managed to get my bus-driver's licence and started looking for a job. After a time I found a job in Karlshamn municipality, where I worked as a driver for Bergkvarabuss.
”"No-one imagined I'd take time off and come back six months later as a qualified pharmacist”.”Mohammed Yasser Hawi
But how could you work as a bus-driver and study at the same time?
– It was difficult, but not impossible. After my job I went home and started studying. It's all about hope, you must do your best no matter what your age, where you are or what the demands are. You mustn't lose your spark, it's like having a motor inside you, and if it stops, it's as if life itself stops.
– One day a friend tipped me off that qualified pharmacists can have their papers validated and be recognised in Norway in a shorter time and with fewer demands. So I started to look into the matter and registered with Socialstyrelsen in Norway to have my degree recognised.
Yasser took time off his work as a bus-driver while he applied for legitimation in Norway. None of his colleagues knew that Yasser had been a pharmacist in Syria,although he was a bus-driver here.
– They thought I just had a job in a chemists' shop, they didn't know I was a qualified pharmacist. No-one imagined I'd take time off and come back six months later as a qualified pharmacist.
”"I got caught up in a lot of bureaucracy, it took several months before Ifinally got the chance to work as an assistant pharmacist in Karlshamn municipality”.”Mohammed Yasser Hawi
Can you work here with your Norwegian legitimation?
– After a while I got my Swedish recognition and started to look for a job again. But it was complicated.
Swedish universities send out students for training in chemists' shops. There the students learn how the Swedish system works and they get some practical experience before they start on their own. But for me it was the other way round.
– I had permission to work as a pharmacist before I had any practical training here. And that was the snag. The chemists' shop could not take me in as a student, I had no connection with any university or job-centre, and I was considered as already being qualified.
Yasser had to give up his job with the bus company and register as unemployed so that the job centre could send him to a chemists' shop for further training, but the job centre could not send him as a trainee to a chemists' shop because he already was a qualified pharmacist. A Catch-22 situation.
– I got caught up in a lot of bureaucracy, it took several months before Ifinally got the chance to work as an assistant pharmacist in Karlshamn municipality.
– I worked there for six months, during which time I could become familiar with the system and work properly. After that I found a job at the hospital pharmacy in Kristianstad, where I got a permanent job. It wasn't easy, there were lots of challenges. But my dream of being able to work in my own branch was my main motivation for struggling on until I reached my goal.
Have you any advice to give to new arrivals?
– Have a positive attitude, be open to all kinds of jobs. You can always learn something, everywhere. It's an advantage if you have an open mind, you learn the language faster and you find your place in society sooner.