In this article, we will be going over how to become a doctor in Sweden.
1. Why Become a Doctor in Sweden?
Sweden, as all Scandinavian countries, is well-known for its high quality of life, which is understandably associated with a good healthcare system, too. Doctors are highly in demand here, and there is a prediction of a shortage of doctors just like in other European countries, due to population growth and increased aging population.
Therefore, heading to Sweden for a medical career can be a very good professional plan. However, there are specific requirements and restrictions worth considering, as this guide to becoming a doctor in Sweden will show.
2. Learning Swedish to fulfill language requirements
Regardless of whether you plan to work in urban or rural areas, you’ll need to speak Swedish to be able to treat your patients, so knowledge of the language is essential. Moreover, in order to pursue medical studies in Sweden, you will need to be fluent in Swedish too. So, the best course of action is to either study the language and then apply to university, or follow a local in-country language course, followed by university studies with a parallel language course to increase your fluency.
Please note that you will not be able to study medicine in Sweden without speaking the language, as programs are all taught in Swedish.
3. Study medicine in Swedish medical schools
Assuming you are fluent in Swedish, the best course of action is to study medicine in Sweden. In order to be accepted to university for medical studies, you’ll need to have graduated high school with a high GPA and have focused on biology and sciences in your classes to become a doctor in Sweden.
As a foreign student, you also need to demonstrate good level of Swedish language knowledge.
Medical school takes five years and a half, after which you will have to complete a year and a half residency/supervised work ahead of becoming licensed as a medical doctor. Sweden has some excellent universities such as Karolinksa Institutet in Stockholm, Uppsala University Faculty of Medicine, Lund and Gothenburg Universities among others, with 500+ years of history and great world rankings for the quality of their teaching.
4. Required tests and residency
The final step before becoming a doctor in Sweden is passing the proficiency examination Kunskasprovet, which includes theory and practical tests and is 100% in Swedish. This can be taken up to three times to get the best result, but within a timeframe of five years from the first attempt.
Foreign trained doctors can also take this exam to validate their experience and knowledge and allow them to practice in Sweden.
5. Obtaining a medical license
After completing your studies in Sweden or obtaining a validation of your foreign medical studies, passing the Kunskasprovet and doing your residency training, you will be licensed to practice medicine in the country. Then, you are officially a doctor in Sweden.
If you apply as a foreign trained doctor, you will need to submit all supporting documents mentioned below to the National Board of Health and Welfare, in return for which you will get your legitimation.
6. Getting a work visa
As a citizen from the EU/EEA/Switzerland, you won’t be required to get a work visa to work in Sweden, under the freedom of movement agreement for all EU countries. You will, however, need to validate your studies if you’ve been licensed in medicine outside Sweden. If you have studied in Sweden and gone through the test and residency here, then you have no further administrative requirements to be able to practice.
As a non-EU citizen, you normally need to have secured a job offer before you can apply for a work permit. The requirement is also to have a monthly salary of at least $1,480 equivalent before taxes, and that your position includes health insurance, life insurance and social security.
7. Finding Jobs in Hospitals
If you are a EU citizen with a medical license recognized by the Swedish authorities, you have the right to move to Sweden without a job offer and look for work locally. This is great for visiting the places you may want to settle in, as well as going to interviews. Of course, if you have finished your studies in Sweden, you’ll be more familiar with hospitals and clinics you may want to apply for work to, otherwise you can have access to job search agencies or conduct your research online. The key thing to note is that you don’t need to have a job offer to sort out accommodation and live in Sweden.
However, for a non-EU citizen, you need to first secure a job offer and obtain a work permit before you can even enter the country. This may mean that it would be easier to first have a student visa, study in Sweden, and apply for work during your studies – subsequently converting your student visa into a work visa. Otherwise, you’ll need to look for work remotely, which can make it difficult to become a doctor in Sweden.
8. How Foreign-trained doctors become doctors in Sweden
There are two types of foreign medical degrees as far as recognition of their accomplishment in Sweden: whether your medical degree is from a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, or whether it is from a non-EU country. Your citizenship has no influence in this process. In both scenarios, you need to prove you are proficient in Swedish.
If your medical degree is from a EU country, your diploma would normally be recognized automatically, but it still needs to be submitted for validation for you to become a doctor in Sweden. An important point to note is that, if you have a medical degree from a non-EU country but have since then obtained a medical license in another EU country, this is also recognized automatically and you don’t have to go through the steps required for foreign trained doctors outside the EU.
Your application for recognition is sent to the Socialstyrelsen (National Board of Health and Welfare) and you also need to submit proof of living in Sweden, of Swedish language proficiency, your Swedish national identity number or your passport, and also proof that you haven’t been banned from the medical profession.
If your medical degree is from a non-EU country, you need to submit your diploma for validation by the Socialstyrelsen. This will be the equivalent of finishing medical school in Sweden. You then need to pass the Kunskasprovet exam just like Swedish medical student would, followed by attending a course on Swedish laws and regulations for foreigners. Regardless of if you have clinical practice experience, you are also required to do a 6-month supervised internship to prove you are comfortable with Swedish medical practice environment.
Finally, you will need to submit all documents and proofs towards a legitimation which, when received, is the official medical license to work in Sweden as a doctor.
I hope that this article on how to become a doctor in Sweden was helpful.
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