Written by Dr Richard Antbring
Sports and exercise medicine in Sweden is a rapidly developing field, reflecting trends in other countries such as England and Australia, where a need for more prominent medical presence has been established as sports are becoming increasingly specialised. A sports doctor in Sweden has the role of:
- Guide, care and treat the active and competing athlete
- Using physical activity and exercise to prevent illness and rehabilitate the person after injury
- Facilitate and manage physical activity in the disabled
- Using exercise and competition as an aid to develop and maintain a personal physical and psychological wellbeing.
Sports doctors in Sweden have traditionally had a background in orthopaedic surgery, but a growing number of general practitioners are entering the field. Universities such as Umeå University and Lund University now offer increasingly popular masters courses in sports medicine.
The main body that oversees training and qualification as a sports doctor in Sweden is Svensk Förening för Fysisk Aktivitet och Idrottsmedicin (Swedish Society of Exercise and Sports medicine, SFAIM). www.svenskidrottsmedicin.se
Sports medicine is not an officially recognised speciality in Sweden, but SFAIM is working closely with the European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations with the aim of developing this in the future. To become a recognised sports medicine physician in Sweden, a doctor would need to be awarded the SFAIM diploma.
Pathway to becoming a sports physician in Sweden
To be eligible to practise as a doctor in Sweden, one would have to be granted a Swedish medical license by Socialstyrelsen, the department that oversees the quality of medical care. Swedish graduates from medical school will have to undertake 18 months of Allmäntjänstgöring (General training). These 18 months comprise of several rotations which include:
- 9 months of internal medicine and surgery
- 3 months of psychiatry
- 6 months of general practice, which is the last rotation.
Doctors who have achieved their medical license from abroad can simply apply to have their medical license converted. Doctors from EU states are able to do this without any exams, and simply just need to prove proficiency of the Swedish language.
As soon as a doctor has obtained a medical license, they are free to apply to a speciality training programme in Sweden. For aspiring sports medicine physicians, this would ideally be either Orthopaedics (5 years), or General Practice (5 years).
Following completion of the speciality training program, a doctor will undertake a series of courses towards achieving the SFAIM diploma. Two, week-long courses form the foundation of sports medicine knowledge, whilst the third course can be done in a field of the candidate’s interest. After completion of these courses, as well as being able to demonstrate significant experience working in the field of sports medicine, the diploma will be granted to the candidate. This allows doctors to work as team doctors in whichever field they chose, such as a medical officer for a sports team.