Medical Specialist Training in Sweden: Everything You Need to Know

22. February 2024.

Medical Specialist Training in Sweden looks quite different today than it did a few years ago. In this article, we will briefly present the main changes you should be aware of.

We’ll especially focus on the regulations that apply to doctors who want to come to Sweden from abroad.

Liječnik drži stetoskop blizu kamere
Photo by Usman Yousaf on Unsplash

Before We Begin – Abbreviations You Should Know

We will mention several (existing and “obsolete”) forms of medical specialist training in Sweden. Let’s briefly go over them:

– ST (Specialiseringstjänstgöring) – specialist training for doctors

– AT (Allmäntjänstgöring) – general medical training; mandatory for doctors who graduated from a Swedish university (similar to internships in many other countries)

– BT (Bastjänstgöring) – a basic service whose main focus is to introduce foreign doctors to the Swedish healthcare system; mandatory for all doctors who studied medicine in an EU member state and want to work in Sweden

Find out which type of training currently applies to you below.

The New Structure of Medical Specialist Training

Until 2021, medical specialist training in Sweden looked and had significantly different requirements than today. This changed in the fall of 2021 when a new, 6-year-long medical education structure was introduced.

Today, it is, as in most European countries, based on a medical license.

Also, on July 1, 2021, the authorities issued a new regulation on specialist training for doctors (ST) – one which was adapted to the new education system and medical training.

This new system and regulation gave rise to the following changes:

– The general medical training (AT), which presented the basis for obtaining a medical license after Swedish education, was abolished.

– At the same time, a new form of training – so-called basic service (BT) – was introduced. Its goal is to give all doctors specializing in Sweden a good, supervised introduction. This also enabled medical students to apply for a medical license immediately after completing their education.

– However, AT still applies to those who began their education under the old, 5.5-year-long program, and who were required to complete AT in order to obtain their license.

– The previous ST regulation also applies until further notice to doctors who have already completed or will complete AT, as well as to doctors who started their specialization before July 1, 2021.

❗ Let us also emphasize that the new regulation, including the one on BT, already applies to all doctors who studied outside of Sweden and did not complete the AT.

Basic Service (BT)

Tim liječnika zajedno hoda po hodniku bolnice

The newly introduced basic service (BT) takes place after the qualification recognition process and represents the initial part of specialization.

It can be conducted separately or as a part of ST, depending on whether the doctor has already arranged the continuation of their specialization with the employer. It lasts a minimum of 6 months, but the average duration is 12 months.

BT is carried out in clinics under supervision and according to clinical instructions, and its main aim is to teach and acquire skills. It is more goal-oriented than AT, but these goals are not speciality-specific.

BT also implies mandatory placement in primary and emergency healthcare.

Before starting BT, the candidate must get approval from the National Board of Health and Welfare.

Special, Fixed-Term Employment for BT

SKR has signed a collective agreement with the Swedish Medical Association regarding special temporary employment for BT.

The basic rule is that the employment contract is signed for a fixed term of 12 months, but there is a possibility of individual deviations.

This way of conducting BT is most often called separate BT, after which separate ST employment takes place.

An alternative to this option is the so-called integrated BT/ST, which implies that BT is carried out as a part of permanent ST employment.

Short Film: Basistjänstgöring (YouTube)

The Medical Chamber, in cooperation with SKR, made an animation that explains the new educational structure, BT, and the new regulations. We suggest you watch it.

It is only 02:15 minutes long and has subtitles in English, Croatian, and other languages.

Long Transition Period Between Systems

The transition period during which AT is being phased out and BT is being introduced is still ongoing. In other words, as we have already said, doctors who began their education under the old program in Sweden can still do AT instead of BT.

It is expected that the number of doctors performing AT will increase in the coming years, then decrease, and finally decline completely. On the other hand, the number of doctors performing BT will remain relatively constant in the coming years and then drastically increase.

But what does this mean for you if you want to come to Sweden from abroad?

In short: nothing. As we mentioned, the new regulations already apply to all doctors who studied medicine outside of Sweden, and they are expected to complete BT.

What Does Medical Specialist Training in Sweden Look Like?

Liječnica gleda u kameru i nosi knjige pod rukom

A doctor who wants to request a certificate of specialist qualification should:

  • have a Swedish medical license and
  • complete their specialist training (ST).

Specialization lasts a minimum of 5-5.5 years (depending on the branch of medicine you specialize in).

During specialization, you work as a doctor under supervision and clinical instructions and undergo additional training.

Every ST doctor must receive training based on the description of their desired specialty. The training program should include internal and external training, time for independent study and supervision, as well as time for independent work that the ST doctor needs to do during specialization.

All healthcare providers training ST doctors must comply with the National Health and Welfare Board’s regulations in order for the specialist service to be approved.

Can Specialization Done Abroad Be Accredited?

As an ST doctor in Sweden, you can, under certain conditions, complete part of your specialization abroad.

In other words, you can accredit the training you’ve done abroad as part of your Swedish specialization training. In particular, there is a possibility of recognizing up to 4-4.5 years (depending on the regulations) of work experience in another country.

In order for your training to be recognized, you must meet the following requirements:

☑️ Have previous work experience as an authorized physician under supervision and clinical instruction
☑️ Your specialization must be certified by a business manager or an equivalent person in the country of specialization
☑️ Your main supervisor in Sweden must confirm that the training has contributed to the fulfillment of the competence requirements in the Swedish objective description that applies to you.

Learn Swedish and Get a Swedish License with Incor

Bilježnica na kojoj piše "Learn Swedish" iznad zastave Švedske

Are you also considering completing your medical specialist training in Sweden? The first step is to learn Swedish.

Zrinka, a lecturer with 13+ years of experience, can help you do just that. After you complete her course, she will also help you obtain a medical license in Sweden.

With her help, you can complete the C1 level of Swedish and start joining the Swedish labor market ASAP.

Simply choose the program that matches your desired level and get started. Upon completion, you’ll receive a certificate. Choose a course here.


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