In America, we can start a lot of jokes with “A man walks into a bar.” Dutch people have a similar first line, but it’s “A man goes to the doctor,” or “Komt een man bij de dokter.” There’s even a TV show with that title, where they act out jokes like that. The title of this post is “Komt een vrouw bij de dokter” because I am a vrouw, and…well, here you go:

I went to a Dutch doctor for the first time last week. I’m applying for scholarships to go to the Kodály Institute in Hungary this summer, and one of the scholarship foundations requires a certificate of good health. So, I got Will and myself registered with the general practitioner in our neighborhood, which you have to do before scheduling any kind of appointment. I decided I like the receptionists because they don’t laugh at my Dutch. Important criteria at work here.

I went to my appointment on Wednesday and I told the doctor that I needed a certificate of good health. The scholarship foundation didn’t list a specific form to use, but I figured it would be a standard statement saying I didn’t have any contagious diseases that the doctor would surely have on hand.

He asked if I had brought a form and I said no. He told me to make another appointment and come back with a form. Then I wondered why these kinds of things still surprise me. Come on, Andrea, you can’t possibly still expect things to get done efficiently! Can you even come up with the Dutch word for “efficient” off the top of your head? No, you cannot. Because you haven’t heard it or read it ANYWHERE.

I made an appointment for Friday and asked the scholarship foundation if there was a form anywhere that I could use. They emailed back and pretty much said, “It’s just a simple form that any doctor should have. It’s not supposed to be that hard. Seriously, guys.”


I knew I couldn’t expect to get a certificate in my next appointment by showing up empty-handed and saying, “Uh, yeah…these Hungarians say you should have this…guise…srsly…” so I decided I would print one out. I did a bunch of different searches but the printable forms either cost money, were specific to a company or organization, or had stuff about blood tests (probably wouldn’t have time for the results before the application deadline).

So I made one. I sat in bed Thursday night and made my own health certificate in Publisher. The whole time I was making it, Will and I were cracking up.

“I can’t believe you’re making a bootleg medical certificate.” “RIGHT?! This is ridiculous.”

I printed it out and went to my appointment the next day. I told the doctor I had a form for him, put it on his desk, and waited. He stared at it for a minute, running his finger across each line as he read it. He looked up and told me it was a very practical form and asked if he could make a copy of it to use with other people.


He checked my blood pressure, heart and lungs, filled out the form, and stamped it. Then he GAVE it to me to TAKE. All in the same day! And I didn’t have to pay anything! It’s a miracle.

So, now if you go to the doctor in my neighborhood and you need a medical certificate, you just might get my creation. What other forms can I make? Can I get a job drawing up useful forms that make sense?