How To Become A Doctor In Sweden

Last Updated on August 27, 2022 by

If you’ve decided that you want to pursue the opportunity of working in Sweden as a doctor, this post will help you get started along that route. In it I’ll outline the various ways you can become a doctor in Sweden, as well as help you understand some of the pros and cons of each path so that you can make an informed decision.

How To Become A Doctor In Sweden is a comprehensive guide providing information on the process of studying to become a doctor in Sweden, the Swedish healthcare system, finding a clinical rotation and how to apply for medical school. It goes into detail about interviews, application forms, student exchange programs and much, much more!

Becoming a doctor in Sweden is more of a challenge than it is in other countries. While the doctors in Sweden are experts and so well qualified, there’s a lot of competition and about 50,000 people apply for roughly 1,700 spots every year. They need the very best grades to make it in this career path. But how much work do you have to put in to become a doctor in Sweden? What exactly are the requirements? And what are some tips for succeeding?

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Sweden has an amazing universal healthcare system, free education and a very high standard of living. Choosing to study medicine in Sweden is a big decision, but it may be the best decision you ever make. This article outlines everything you need to know about becoming a doctor in Sweden.

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The first step to becoming a doctor in Sweden is to complete the required pre-medical courses at a Swedish university. This typically takes four years, but can sometimes be longer depending on the program.

The next step is to apply for admission to one of the medical schools in Sweden. These programs are offered by Lund University and Karolinska Institutet, as well as some smaller institutions like Uppsala University and Umeå University. Students must submit their applications by February 15th of the year they wish to enter medical school. Medical schools admit students based on GPA and MCAT scores (if applicable).

Medical school lasts five years, during which time students take classes in anatomy, physiology, pathology and pharmacology along with other basic sciences required for medical practice. During their final year at medical school, students must complete an internship at a hospital or clinic where they will gain hands-on experience working with patients under supervision from experienced doctors or nurses who provide guidance as needed throughout this process.

Hassan passed the test

How to become a medical doctor in sweden

“So, you are a medical doctor. Do you plan to practice here after finishing your master study?” This was the most common question I got during my first eight months here in Stockholm. At first, I did not really think about this. My initial plan was to come to KI and finish the Master in Health Informatics programme. However, since I heard this question a lot lately, then I started to look for some information. One thing for sure is that I obtained my MD degree from Indonesia, that is in the South East Asia region, in other words, non-EU. That means that I can not just put on my white coat and go around treating people.

For the people, me included, who had already arrived in Sweden for other purposes and coincidentally possess a medical doctor degree, here are six steps that we should undergo in order to get a practice license in Sweden:

1. Learn Swedish

Although most Swedish can speak English, and they speak it fluently, but it is a must to learn Swedish, because the daily conversation, especially in the healthcare setting, is in Swedish. One can learn it intensively through the SFA (Svenska för akademiker) medicin, which is intended for people with clinical or healthcare education background. However, it might be almost impossible to take it parallelly with the full-time master’s degree programme. Other options should be to take the regular Swedish language course and finish it until the SVA 3 level or C1 level based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. You can find my story on how i accelerate my Swedish.

2. Validate the diplomas

One does not acquire the medical doctor diploma for nothing. We, well at least me, value this diploma that I bring it when I move to Stockholm. And, it turns out that I can get this diploma validated by submitting it to the Socialstyrelsen. By getting it validated, it means that I was acknowledged to had finished the corresponding education that I do not need to re-take it here.

3. Pass the proficiency examination

Kunskasprovet, or the proficiency examination, is consisted of theoretical and practical tests, delivered in Swedish. Each person only has three attempts to take the exam and only five years from the day of the first attempt. So, one must be better prepared prior to deciding to take the first attempt.

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4. Attend the Swedish laws and regulations course

The healthcare system in Sweden is regulated by many laws and regulations that might be distanced from the laws and regulations that one knew and obeyed to when one still in the home country. Taking the course(s) is mandatory and will be beneficial for future purposes of working within the clinical practice.

5. Undergo clinical internship

Even though I already had experiences in clinical practice, I still have to familiarize myself with the working environment within the healthcare facility or in the community. The internship is intended to be taken. You will need to undergo clinical training even if you have practiced before. The internship will last for 6 months.

6. Apply for the practice license

The final step to do is definitely to apply for the license (legitimation – in Swedish) by submitting the supporting documents from the previous steps. And, voila! One can put the white coat in pride and start treating the patient.

How to Become a Medical Doctor in Sweden (8 Steps)

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.

Going to a doctor in Sweden without a personal number - Study in Sweden

Theory and Practice

As a medical student in Gothenburg, you have contact with patients from the beginning of the programme. One teaching week in semesters one to four are placed at healthcare centres or hospitals in the Västra Götaland Region. Together with a supervisor, you get to follow the activities up close. Teaching in the programme in medicine takes place in the form of lectures, student activating pedagogy with case exercises, laboratory sessions, group work, seminars and literature assignments.

Beginning in semester five, clinical placement takes place where the teaching takes the form of practical work under the supervision of doctors. This gives you the opportunity to apply and specialise your theoretical knowledge. Most of the courses are examined with a written or oral examination. In examination situations, you must also demonstrate that you have acquired knowledge of various practical components.


If you as a student want to conduct research, there are good opportunities. The programme provides a broad base for research in the medical field. To stimulate the students’ interest in research, the Sahlgrenska Academy has established a research assistance programme.

Research assistants accepted to the programme conduct research and teach for three years. Service as a research assistant is conducted at a scope of 10% for 10 months alongside of the courses of the programme in medicine and 100% during two summer months per years.

medical residency in sweden salary

The average salary per month for a resident physician in Sweden is 44 000 SEK, for a specialist 61 000 SEK and for a chief physician 90 000 SEK. The total average income for doctors is 70 000 SEK.

Average salary for a nurse starts with minimum 25000 SEK.

medical courses in sweden

PG Medical Courses in Sweden

Listed below are the popular PG Medical courses in Sweden- 

  • Nanoscience – Pre-Master’s Programme
  • Physiotherapy with specialisation in Behavioural Medicine
  • Medical Radiation Physics
  • Biomedicine
  • Medical Science, Ageing and Health
  • Pharmaceutical Modelling
  • Infection Biology
  • Global Health
  • Medical Science
  • Drug Discovery and Development
  • Experimental Medicine
  • Medical Research
  • Innovative Medicine
  • Infectious Disease Control

Health Courses in Sweden

Here are some of the best health courses in Sweden-

  • Occupational Therapy
  • Health Science
  • Pharmaceutical Technology-Discovery, Development and Production – Pre-Master’s Programme
  • Public Health within Health and Social Welfare
  • Public Health Science, Health Economics
  • Public Health
  • Health Economics, Policy and Management
  • Public Health Science, Health Equality
  • Infection Biology
  • Global Health
  • Public Health – Health Economics
  • Psychology with Specialisation in Health Psychology
  • Public Health (one-year)
  • Global Health
  • Innovative Medicine
  • Medical Nuclide Techniques
  • Infectious Disease Control
  • Sports Physiology and Medicine
  • Public Health
  • Global Health

Distance Learning Medical Courses in Sweden 

Distance learning is a contemporary method of learning that allows students to study in their own time and location without having to physically attend school/college/university. Because online learning is so vital in today’s education system, the number of programs has grown year after year. Having said that, there are a few notable colleges, institutes, and universities that provide some of the best short-term and long-term medical courses in Sweden. Let’s have a look:

University/Institute Course Name Duration 
Lund University Nanoscience – Pre-Master’s Programme7 months 
Lund University Food Technology and Nutrition 7 months 
Lund University Pharmaceutical Technology-Discovery, Development and Production 7 months 
Jonkoping University Occupational Therapy 2 years 
Kristianstad University Integrative Health Science2 years 
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Outdoor Environments for Health and Well-being2 years 

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