Although oftentimes regarded as just another Scandinavian nation, Finland has much to offer. For one, it is among the most progressive, open, and developed countries in both Europe and the world. It is also one of the highest acclaimed when it comes to the study and practice of medicine.

Nevertheless, with such high acclaim, comes a high level of competitiveness. Therefore, securing a medical position in Finland is no easy task. To ease the transition, this article looks at the steps to becoming a medical doctor in Finland.

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How to Become a Medical Doctor in Finland

1. The first step in practicing medicine in Finland is language proficiency.

Even though most Finnish people have native-like fluency in English, knowledge of this language is insufficient in the medical profession. In other words, you must be proficient in Finish in order to study and become a medial doctor in Finland.

Although Finnish is quite distinct from other languages, it does not have to be difficult to learn. Today, you have the option of both in-person and online courses, as well as several language learning applications. In addition, the Finnish government offers an abundance of immersion courses that help you both learn the language and get accustomed to life in Finland.

2. In addition to language proficiency, you will also need a medical education.

This is, of course, a crucial step to become a medical doctor in Finland. Similar to most other Scandinavian countries, the Finish educational system holds high international acclaim. Therefore, if given the opportunity, you should consider studying medicine at a Finnish university. However, acceptance into a Finish medical program is no easy task.

Candidates must complete their secondary education with exceptional marks and show a decisive focus on subjects such as chemistry, mathematics, and biology. Furthermore, all applicants must sit and pass a national-level admissions exam, conducted in May each year. Lastly, all medical programs are taught exclusively in Finish, meaning that international candidates are required to provide proof of language proficiency as well.

Once admitted, students have six years of medical studies to complete. Similar to Denmark, the first three years constitute the Bachelor’s degree, while the next three represent the Master’s. Once they obtain their diploma, graduates gain the title of Licentiate in Medicine. Nevertheless, they are still not permitted to practice medicine independently.

3. Upon graduation, medical graduates must complete a mandatory residency period.

Dissimilar to other nations, Finland requires a fairly short residency period. Namely, all graduates must complete a six-month-long residency in their medical field of interest. Of course, securing the desired residency requires both academic excellence and stellar recommendations.

Once they complete their six-month residency, all doctors are required to sit a national-level exam. Passing this test allows you to register as a practicing physician in Finland. Upon receiving your medical credentials, you have two choices, either begin practicing medicine or look for further specializations in your respective medical field.

4. Once you become a practicing physician, you will need to secure a medical position in either a hospital or a medical center.

As most services in Finland are digitalized, you will most likely have to apply for your desired position online. The most widely used site for this is the European Job Mobility Portal, known in short as EURES. In most cases, the application will be provided in either Finnish or Swedish, meaning that language proficiency is a prerequisite for this step as well. On the other hand, medical doctors who are already in Finland have another option. They may seek employment through the Finish employment offices as well.

5. Foreign medical doctors must complete a few additional steps.

The first type of foreign-trained doctors obtains their medical degree in some other EU nation. These practitioners are required to submit their diploma and proof of Finnish language proficiency to Valvira, the official medical licensing body. Once Valvira approves their medical license, they will automatically be registered in the Central Register of Healthcare Professionals, also known as Terhikki.

However, if your medical degree comes from outside of the EU, the process is a bit more complex. For you to become a medical doctor in Finland, you will need to complete a medical internship and three-part licensure examination before your degree may be recognized as equivalent to one obtained in Finland.

6. In addition to the aforementioned, foreign-trained medical practitioners may also be required to obtain a work visa.

The Finnish government recognized two types of foreign medical professionals – those coming from inside and those coming from outside of the EU/EEA. In the case of the former, no work visa is required. In other words, doctors trained in an EU/EEA country may practice medicine in Finland without ever applying for a work visa. Nevertheless, they still have to have their medical diploma recognized and obtain a Finish medical license. In addition, after three months, they must also register their right of residence.

Conversely, doctors trained outside of the EU/EEA must apply for a work visa before seeking employment. Of course, this does not apply to foreign medical students who have completed their medical education in Finland.


I hope that you found this article on the steps to becoming a doctor in Finland informative and helpful. You can also find more information on different European universities and scholarship opportunities on the Europe Scholarships Page!