Norway has great standards of living and a very high quality of health services to go with that. That is why being a doctor there is not only a highly respected profession, but a very competitive one. Luckily the Norwegian medical schools are some of the best and oldest in the world, and if you choose to study there it will be a great way to become immersed in Norway’s culture and grow accustomed to the rules and regulations you need to follow as a doctor. In this article, we will be covering how to become a medical doctor in Norway.
1. Why Become a Doctor in Norway?
Despite the high living standard in Norway, the country has a shortage of doctors and has long accepted immigration from neighboring states like Denmark and Sweden. They are therefore very open to doctors coming in from abroad, although it is much easier to establish yourself as a doctor if you have completed your medical studies in the country and are familiar with the system.
2. Norwegian language requirements for a medical doctor in Norway
Norwegian medical schools do not teach in English, except for some Master’s and PhD programs, especially dedicated to international partnerships. Although a good level of English is required of medical students and there are English-language courses throughout the medical school, you will need to speak fluent Norwegian in order to gain admission, and later on to become a doctor in Norway.
One way to learn Norwegian up to medical school standards is to attend courses in the country, and there are many pre-university courses organized for this purpose.
3. Try to Study in Norweigian medical schools
It is easier and more practical to become a doctor in Norway if you obtain a medical degree in the country. Moreover, the high quality of studies at universities such as the University of Oslo or Bergen makes it a great decision to study there.
All medical programs are six years long and you gain admission after high school, when you should have ideally focused on studying science subjects to a high level. Admission is based on your high school results and is very competitive, so you’ll need to have done really well to get into a Norwegian medical school.
Norwegian medical school is all state-based and, despite the high cost of living in the country, medical studies are free of charge. All students need to pay is a contribution to union fees.
There are four medical schools in Norway: the University of Oslo, the University of Bergen, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and the University of Tromso.
4. Required Exams and Residencies
Traditionally, successful completion of medical school was not enough for doctors to be able to practice medicine in Norway. They would all have to also carry out a 1.5-year long residency program. This has been waived now for generalists, as all European Free Trade Agreement countries allow their medical graduates to practice as generalists without having to complete the residency program (which is reserved for specialists only).
However, it must be said that the six years of medical school do include a high number of hours spent in clinical settings and doing practical training scenarios, so that all medical graduates in Norway have a very good practical grounding as well.
5. Getting a medical license
The act of successfully completing medical school, including all end-of-year examinations, is enough to get a medical license in Norway. Once you have done your six years of education, you are considered a medical doctor in Norway.
If you choose to become a specialist, you will need to enroll in the 18-month specialist internships. Upon successful completion of these, including exams at the end of the program, you will be licensed to practice as a specialist in Norway.
6. Getting a work visa
In order to work as a doctor in Norway, if you are a citizen of the EFTA (European Free Trade Agreement) and you have either obtained your degree in Norway or have had your degree recognized by the Norwegian Directorate of Health, then you will not need a work visa to practice as a doctor.
If you are applying as a non-EFTA citizen, then you need to obtain a residence permit and a highly skilled work visa. The process is done online on the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration website, where you will be asked to submit proof of a job offer or, if self-employed, will need to meet earnings criteria. You can find a useful guide to work visa types and requirements for residency permits for non-EU citizens here.
7. Starting your own practice or finding hospitals to work in
In order to start your own practice as a doctor in Norway, your medical degree has to be recognized by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and you have to have a work visa for self-employed immigrants. Interestingly, Norway welcomes doctor immigration as there is a countrywide shortage of medical professionals.
Finding work in a hospital requires an application through the usual job advertising websites, although there are some more specialized databases that target the Scandinavian countries such as this one. In all cases, you will need a medical degree from Norway or a recognized degree and you will need to speak Norwegian to be considered for a job.
8. How foreign students can become a doctor in Norway
If your degree in medicine is from a EU country, it is easier to get an equivalation from the Norwegian Directorate of Health, as there are European-wide agreements on reciprocal acceptance of degrees. However, in all cases you need to submit your degree for review, and you will also be asked to send in a transcript and a detailed curriculum overview where the content of each course is clearly stated and there are details around the duration of your studies and the content.
For non-EU citizens, you also need to submit a work permit and/or a residency permit when you request certification of your medical degree. You can find out more details and the contact information for this process here.
I hope that this article on how to become a doctor in Norway was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Medical School Category!