Among the areas of training available for health care professionals, there are many training programmes and qualifications whose content has not been harmonised, or rendered equivalent, at the European Union level. These include training for professions such as psychologist, speech therapist, nutritionist, pharmacist, physiotherapist, medical laboratory technologist, radiographer, dental hygienist, occupational therapist, optician, dental technician and all professions with protected professional titles. Because of this, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) cannot automatically grant a person who has obtained such a professional qualification in another EU/EEA Member State a licence to practice that profession in Finland. Additional measures may in some cases need to be taken even in the case of professions for which training has been harmonised, such as medical doctor, dentist, dispenser, registered nurse and midwife.
It is the duty of Valvira to investigate whether the training received by an applicant in another EU/EEA Member State may be considered equivalent to the corresponding Finnish training or whether there are significant differences in content. If significant differences in content are found compared to the corresponding Finnish training as currently provided, the applicant may be given the opportunity to undertake additional measures, such as taking an aptitude test or submitting to an adaptation period.
In practice, the investigation of whether a foreign qualification is equivalent to a Finnish qualification is performed by an educational institution providing training in that field, at Valvira’s request. The educational institution returns a statement to Valvira, including a recommendation of the studies and subject areas that the applicant should cover in order to make up for any significant differences between the qualifications compared.
If there are significant differences between the qualifications, Valvira will issue a certificate of conditional recognition of professional qualification that orders the applicant to take an aptitude test or undergo an adaptation period. The applicant cannot be licensed to practice his/her profession until the additional measure specified in the conditional recognition has been acceptably completed.
The aptitude test consists of a theory examination and possibly also a practical examination, and it is organised by a Finnish educational institution. The test may include questions to gauge the applicant's knowledge of good professional practice as applied in Finland. The test must be taken in Finnish or Swedish. Valvira will determine the principal content of the test and the body administering the test in the decision on conditional recognition of professional qualification. The educational institution will charge a fee for administering the test.
During the adaptation period, the applicant works under the guidance and supervision of another professional at a health care unit referred to in section 2(4)of the Act on the Status and Rights of Patients or at a social welfare unit providing institutional care referred to in section 24 of the Social Welfare Act, being directly employed by the body maintaining the unit. The adaptation period may include complementary training in the form of formal complementary training provided by the employer or as learning on the job. The applicant must personally find a placement for the adaptation period. The employer may pay the applicant a wage for the duration of the adaptation period.
Valvira will determine the length of the adaptation period and the positions available to the applicant in the decision on the conditional recognition of professional qualification. Valvira will also designate a supervisor for the applicant for the adaptation period on submission from the employer and determine the qualifications to be required from him/her. The supervisor must be licensed to practice the profession in question in Finland and have at least five years of work experience.
By signing the adaptation period agreement, the employer and the supervisor agree to ensure that the conditions imposed in the agreement can be acceptably fulfilled during the adaptation period. If the adaptation period is undergone in more than one segment at different units or under different supervisors, a separate agreement must be signed for each segment.
The supervisor assigned to the adaptation period must monitor, guide and supervise the applicant’s activities during the adaptation period and address any anomalies immediately. If there is a possibility of patient safety being jeopardised due to the applicant’s actions during the adaptation period, the supervisor must notify Valvira immediately. Valvira may order the adaptation period to be discontinued.
At the end of the adaptation period, the supervisor will evaluate the applicant’s performance overall and issue a statement to Valvira concerning the applicant’s competence and skill in practicing his/her profession. A statement must be issued even if the adaptation period was discontinued, whether by the applicant or by Valvira. The supervisor must mention in the statement if any significant differences or shortcomings in training were not acceptably rectified during the adaptation period.
The adaptation period must be undergone in Finnish or Swedish. The applicant may not begin the adaptation period until he/she has sufficient language skills to be able to do this. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the person has good enough language skills to successfully perform his/hers professional duties before the adaptation period begins.The following requirements must also be fulfilled:
The applicant has received a decision of conditional recognition of professional qualification;
The applicant has submitted to Valvira the adaptation period agreement signed with the employer;
Valvira has accepted the place of employment and supervisor for the adaptation period; and
Valvira has registered the adaptation period in the Central Register of Health Care Professionals (Terhikki) on the basis of the agreement.
Valvira will issue a registration certificate on temporary registration to the applicant.
Licence to practice a profession
A decision on licensing the applicant to practice a profession will not be made until the applicant has submitted a new application form to Valvira, accompanied by a report on the acceptable completion of the additional measure specified.