With its progressive politics, great healthcare system and overall quality of living, Finland is an appealing destination for doctors looking to work in Northern Europe. It is also a very internationally-minded country, where you can pursue higher education in English for many programs (though not for medical school at undergraduate entry level). You’ll need to speak Finnish and become accustomed to the particular climate, but working in Finland will prove very rewarding. In this article, we will be looking at how to become a doctor in Finland.
1. Finnish Language Requirements
Whether you plan to study in Finland or move there after completing studies in your home country, speaking Finnish is essential to a medical career. In order to learn Finnish, you can choose to study at home online or by using applications for self-taught courses, or immerse yourself in a language course in Finland itself.
In any case, speaking fluent Finnish will be a pre-requisite for entering medical school, as well as for obtaining your medical license for you to become a doctor in Finland.
2. Study in Finnish Medical Schools if Possible
Completing your medical studies in the country is one of the best ways to get into the system in Finland and to familiarize yourself with all the requirements for getting your medical license.
Medical school takes six years to complete in Finland, and at the end you are awarded the degree of Licenciate in Medicine. As most programs are taught in Finnish, proof of your language level is required for admission, alongside with your high school results and proof of knowledge in subjects such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics. You will then need to sit an entrance examination at national level, held every year in May. This can be taken in Finnish or in Swedish.
3. Medical exams and residency
After completing six years of medical school, the final step before becoming a medical doctor in Finland is to do a 6-month clinical placement in the field of your interest.
All doctors then have to sit a national exam to become a registered physician.
Depending on your personal interests, there is then the opportunity to specialize further, by applying to specialization training which can take between three and six years in total.
4. Becoming a licensed doctor
The medical license in Finland is awarded after successful completion of the national medical examination which can be taken by anyone that’s finished their medical studies and completed the compulsory 6-month clinical placement.
5. Work Visa for Doctors in Finland
Finland has a specific process for doctors from a European Union state, which involves recognition of the medical degree and giving authorization to practice medicine in Finland. You then don’t need to apply for a visa, but after three months living in Finland, you need to register your right of residence.
If you are coming to Finland from outside the EU, alongside the requirements for becoming registered as a doctor in Finland, you’ll also need to apply for a work visa. Students who finish their studies in a Finnish university, however, can receive a temporary residence permit for job application.
Otherwise, you need to register for a residence permit for an employed person – you can find more information here.
6. Getting a Job as a Doctor
The easiest way to find a job in Finland is by using online job sites or the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES). The actual online job search is often only available in Finnish and Swedish.
Alternatively, you can use employment offices in Finland, especially if you are already in the country.
7. Becoming a Doctor in Finland through Foreign Schools
Doctors who have qualified within the European Union need to apply to the medical licensing body, Valvira, submitting their medical degree and proof of their Finnish language abilities. As a result of being granted a license by Valvira, you will also be added to the Central Register of Healthcare Professionals (known as Terhikki).
There are different requirements for registration depending on your specialization and you can find out specific steps for each of them here.
If your degree was issued outside of the EU, you need to complete an internship in Finland and also go through a three-part licensure examination before your degree can be recognized formally to become a doctor in Finland. This ensures that your medical degree is truly equivalent to one awarded in Finland. The steps for applying first for your degree to be recognized, and then to go through the licensing phases, can be found here.
I hope that this article on how to become a doctor in Finland was helpful.