|Participating cities (LC's)||Helsinki, Kuopio, Oulu, Tampere, Turku|
|Languages||Finnish and Swedish. English is the official language of the exchanges|
|Currency (how much is a Bigmac?)||Euros: Big Mac meal is 6,30€.|
|Time zone||+2 GMT|
|Number of Doctors and beds per 1000 people||3.3|
|Member of IFMSA since...||1951|
|Number of incoming students per year||approx. 100|
|Who are our NEO's||Henri Jolkkonen (NEO-out) and Inna Olsonen (NEO-in)|
|Our official website / Forum / Facebook group||http://www.fimsic.org/en/|
How nice that you are interested in IFMSA-exchanges in Finland! We hope you find here information that is useful for you, and if not, you are always welcome to approach the national and local exchange officers. After exchange students have been placed to different cities, they will receive a welcome letter with more information from their local committee.
Please see our exchange conditions from , they also contain a lot of important information!
Please remember, that if you are interested in taking part in an IFMSA-exchange, you should first apply to your own national medical students' association for a spot. Only if a student is sent by their own medical students' association can we accept them for a clerkship.
Finland is situated in Northern Europe and shares borders with Sweden, Russia, Norway and the Baltic Sea. Although its surface area is the 8th largest in Europe, there are only around 5.4 million inhabitants. Finland is well known from its pure nature and tranquility combined with modern technology. Large proportion of the area of Finland is covered with forests and over 188 000 inland lakes. Majority of Finns (93 %) speak Finnish as their mother tongue and there are smaller minorities of Swedish speaking population (6 %) and Sami people.
Finnish culture is a combination of traditions, such as sauna and winter sports, and the mainstream modern Nordic and European influence. Due to its history, and geography between Sweden and Russia, Finland has been seen as an area mixing Eastern and Western European traditions.
Finns have typically attributed themselves as straightforward and stubborn. The idea of achieving by being persistent and not giving up is still commonly expressed with the concept of sisu (”Finnish guts”). In Finland it is polite to be on time and being late is considered as rude, please take this into account during your exchange. You can discover your own definition for a “Finnish mentality” during your exchange!
Finland is geographically situated in the North; the Arctic Circle actually passes through Lapland. Nevertheless, the climate is rather mild and the temperature rarely reaches extremes. The weather varies a lot depending on the time of year and it also changes somewhat on the basis of the location within Finland. The four seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) each have their own typical weather.
In the Southern Finland the climate is an average of 22 °C in the summertime (may rise up to 30 °C or sink as low as 10 °C) and -7 °C in the wintertime (ranging between -25 °C and +10 °C). In Northern parts of the country the average temperature during the summer months is around 19 °C (ranging between -3 °C and +30 °C) and the winter temperature average is -15 °C (ranging between -40 °C and +6 °C). As the weather can be somewhat unpredictable, please be prepared for all kinds of temperatures, rain and sunshine, while packing for your exchange.
Compared to other European countries, Finland is in the mid-range when it comes to living expenses. There are also differences among towns: in Helsinki you are likely to need more money when getting a beer or a pizza out in the town. In Helsinki you most probably need to have a monthly card for the public transportation.
Here are some examples of price level:
- Train Helsinki-Turku 15e
- Train Helsinki-Tampere 15e
- Train Helsinki-Oulu 40e
- Train Helsinki-Kuopio 33e
These are the discount prices for students. Without a Finnish student discount the prices are double, but most local committees are able to arrange student discounts for their incoming students. Depending on the type of train the journey can be cheaper or more expensive.
- Local bus ticket 2-3e
- Beer (in a bar) 3-7e
- Pizza 4-9e
- Dinner in a restaurant 10-25e
- Night in a hostel 20-30e
There are frequent flight connections from all over the world. Most flights arrive to the main airport in Helsinki, but there are also airports in Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Kuopio, Vaasa, Rovaniemi and some other towns. International flights to the smaller airports are few, but at least Turku and Tampere are worth checking.
If your flight terminates at Helsinki but you are due in some other city you have two options: train or bus. The prices are very similar so you can pick the one you prefer. Generally train connections are faster and more convenient than buses. Contact your own LC for the most convenient transportation for you. In addition, you can catch a ferry from Sweden, Estonia, Germany and even Latvia through Tallinn.
More information on getting around in Finland can be found on the pages of each local committee.
Finland is one of the Schengen countries, and the policy on entry to Finland follows those rules. You can find information on visa requirements on the web pages of our Ministry for foreign affairs. If you need an invitation for obtaining a visa, the Finnish national exchange officer will make one for you, scan it and email it to you to the email address you have given in your application form.
Our health care system
The Finnish health care system is mainly public, with a historical aim and ideal to provide good health care for everybody regardless of how wealthy they are and where they live. However, the role of the private sector is growing stronger all the time. The costs of using the public health care in Finland are higher than in most other European countries. Yet, health care is one of the biggest expenditures in the budjets of the government and of the municipalities.
The basis of the healt care system are health care centres where primary care is offered. In addition to this, primary care organized by employers for their workers is a significant part of the health care services available to the working age population.
These days one major problem, at least seen from a doctor's point of view, is how we are going to finance health care in the future and how we draw the line that we can't afford something when it comes to treating an individual. Our standards for what a person should be entitled to are rising all the time as the means of treating develop. At the same time as the new ways to treat get more and more sophisticated and expensive our population is getting older and sicker.
What can be seen is as an advantage to the entire health care system is that Finnish doctors are well organized in a labour union, in an academic/professional society, in addition to which there are organizations for each speciality, for doctors in certain areas and for doctors with certain kind of personal interests. All of the organizations hold up and provide forums for discussing how our health care system, our ways of working and our schemes for treating could be developed.
Seen from the inside, our health care system has its several faults and issues, but it is still something also to take pride in. In comparison to many other countries our system has been deemed efficient in many surveys. Most of the modern diagnostic and treatment methods are available.
General things about working at the hospital/ research project
In Finland it is always very important to be everywhere in time. Finnish doctors speak good English, and most of the patients speak English at least sufficiently. You do not have to speak any Finnish in order to come here as an IFMSA exchange student but you need to be extremely fluent in English as the clerkship and the social program will be organized in English. Make sure that you are familiar with basic medical terms in English.
Good hand hygiene is extremely important in Finnish hospitals. Rasta hair or heavy piercings are generally frowned upon if not downright prohibited. The longer your hair, the more recommendable it is to tie it down. Miniskirts and shorts are not acceptable hospital wear.
At the end of your exchange, you will get a certificate of your exchange, if you have been present at the clinic at least 80% of time and filled in your logbook. At your home country you may need the certificate eg. in order to get credits from your exchange.
It is possible to borrow a white coat from the hospital and in some places even trousers and t-shirts, but it is important to bring indoor shoes. Finnish doctors typically prefear health sandals.
On your first day at the clinic, your personal contact person will bring you to the hospital and you will meet your tutor. Depending on your clinical experience and the clinic, you will be able to follow the rounds, examine patients, perform small procedures (iv lines, arterial blood samples etc.) or at the surgical clinic follow and perhaps assist in the surgeries. Please always strictly follow the instruction given by your supervising doctor.
Before your exchange, the professor usually sends you some preliminary reading information about your research topic. On your first day, your personal contact person will bring you to the project. You will meet your tutor, who will give you instructions about your research work. Please always follow the instructions given. Depending on the project, your tasks will vary from performing laboratory analysis to examining patients.
What to bring with you?
You should bring a stethoscope and hospital shoes. White coats and scrubs are provided by the hospital. Don’t forget the insurance certificate and the MRSA (Methisillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) negativity certificate. See also http://www.ifmsa.net/public/ecscope.php?id=27
Our medical education
There are five universities in Finland with a medical faculty: Helsinki, Kuopio, Oulu, Tampere and Turku. The medical curriculum is 5,5 or six years, depending on the faculty. In Helsinki it is possible to study in Swedish or in Finnish, but all the other faculties only have a Finnish programme.
There are some slight differences in how the curriculum is built in different faculties and what kind of methods are emphasized. In all of the towns, however, the studies begin with two years of preclinical studies, after which the students get to start working their way through all the clinical fields.
After six years a student graduates and is academically a doctor, but to be fully leagalized they still have to work for some time under supervision. Specializing in one of the fields takes five to six years.
Compared to some other countries there is a lot of practical training in the Finnish medical curriculum. All the students have to examine a certain amount of patiens during the courses. The students also have to do four months of clerkships in different clinics before they graduate.
There's also a compulsory thesis to write, so all the students have to do a bit of research.
Finland has a history of its own, but its culture shares some common features with other Nordic countries and countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. Our mentality and way of being is something closer to theirs than to that of Southern Europeans.
Working very hard, being really honest and modest and not complaining are some traditional Finnish virtues, that still show in our culture, even though we now are creating more and more place for softer and more easy going values.
Finns may seem somewhat shy or reserved especially with people they don't know, but this is of course a stereotype and not the case with each and every one. Underneath their shy surface most of them are really curious about foreigners, eager to get to know them and happy to help.
In Finland punctuality is valued and expected and following the rules is important. At least from a Finnish perspective, though, this is not the worst country with too many rules that are there rather for the rules themselves than making things work better. In Finland rules generally aim at making things go smoother rather than making them more difficult.
Even though it is important to respect people and their personal space, in Finland teachers, professors or heads of departments are not adressed formally with titels like mr, doctor or professor. It is customary to hold a certain polite distance to everybody one doesn't know well yet, which is concidered respectful, but respect is not implied by ranks or hierarchy.
Accommodation & Boarding
FiMSIC arranges the accommodation. Usually the lodging is in apartments rented from Finnish students. Probably you will be sharing the apartment with other exchange students of the same gender. Board is provided at least once a day, usually in the hospital canteen.
During summer months (June-August) social program will be arranged by the local officers and contact persons. It includes various parties, e.g. welcome party, national food party, hanging out at the parks or on the beach, bar nights etc.
In addition, exchange students’ weekend are arranged in July and August in one city at the time. Every FiMSIC exchange student is invited to the weekend. The program is from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon and it includes for example a sauna night and local sightseeing. You should pay small participation fee and the travelling costs by train.
Local & National transportation
In Finland public transport is good and reliable, but somewhat expencive compared to many countries with a lower cost of living.
In Helsinki you are sure to become well acquainted with the public transport system, but in many other towns getting around on foot is the best and a sufficient option for most of the distances.
Our exchange conditions can be viewed in the IFMSA database .
We appreciate it if the applicants have read them well.
Please note that we cannot place everybody in Helsinki, even though that is where 95% of the applicants primarily wish to be placed. Only approximately 15-20% of professional exchange students can be placed there. Luckily our other towns are very nice and recommendable, too.
When coming outside the summer months (June-August) there are not so many other exchange students and we only arrange official social programme in July and August, so it's good to be prepared to be rather indipendent or to come with a friend.
For feedback on these wikipages and for further questions please turn to the national exchange officers at neo at fimsic dot org.