Department of general practice and primary health care
A key goal for the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care is to develop and support primary healthcare through education and research. We collaborate closely with the primary healthcare unit of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and the health centres operating within the HUS catchment area for highly specialised medical care.

Our operations encompass

  • Basic education for students of medicine
  • Training, guidance, supervision and support for doctors completing specific training in general medical practice
  • Training, guidance, supervision and support for specialising doctors completing a training period in primary healthcare
  • Specialist training, guidance, supervision and support for doctors specialising in general medical practice
  • Postgraduate research education for researchers and doctoral students
  • Continuing education and multiprofessional training for primary healthcare professionals
Education

The Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care is responsible for Finnish- and Swedish-language instruction in general medical practice. Courses included in basic education provide an overview of the key duties in primary healthcare and the treatment practices associated with different diseases in the health centres of the Uusimaa region.

Our courses in general medical practice and primary healthcare include the First Study Period in Primary Health Care (spring term of the first year of studies), the Second Study Period in Primary Health Care (autumn term of the second year of studies), the Third Study Period in Primary Health Care (third or fourth year of studies) and the General Practice and Primary Health Care course (autumn or spring term of the fifth year of studies).

After completing the programme, graduates have the opportunity to complete specific training in general medical practice or specialist training at our department.

Basic education

In the courses we provide in basic medical education, students are familiarised with the key duties of primary healthcare and practices characteristic of the field in terms of both individual patients and the population level. From the first to fifth year of studies, teaching is largely implemented as contact instruction involving actual patients or other subjects, for example, at health centres.

Courses included in the Degree Programme in Medicine, scope and timing:

Optional advanced courses in basic education

  • Further details are provided each year; see the Courses website.
  • Scope: 2.5 or 5 credits

The topics of the advanced studies can be enquired directly from the department’s teachers.

Training in all specialist fields includes a health centre service period of at least nine months at a training health centre. Persons who have been granted a licence to practice the profession of a medical doctor in Finland (full licence) can be admitted to complete a training period in a health centre. Supervisors of postgraduate students completing the nine-month health centre service period must be directly employed by the municipality. The requirements and a more detailed description of the nine-month health centre service period are available in the course catalogue for specialist training in medicine.

After completing the health centre service period, you will

  • Understand the duties associated with primary healthcare and specialised care as well as collaboration from the perspective of your specialist field and its patients
  • Recognise diagnostic strategies characteristic of primary healthcare and its key possibilities for examination and care
  • Be familiar with collaboration between different professional groups

Explore the aims in more detail in the course catalogue for specialist training in medicine.

Completing the health centre service period

  • Your health centre service period includes completing the duties of a doctor at a health centre in a versatile manner.
  • You will be provided group and personal supervision.
  • You will participate in in-service training.

Further information in support of training

Specific training in general medical practice is required to practise medicine within the social insurance system in member states of the European Union other than Finland. The nine-month health centre service period included in the training must be completed at a training health centre in a direct employment relationship concluded with the relevant municipality. The requirements and a more detailed description of the specific training in general medical practice are available in the course catalogue.

The aim of the training is to familiarise you with

  • The duties of doctors working in primary healthcare
  • Collaboration between professionals in the healthcare and social services sector
  • Healthcare administration and the social security system

Explore the aims in more detail in the course catalogue.

Completing the programme

  • For doctors who have completed their medical education in Finland, the duration of the training is two years. It includes the completion of doctors’ duties in primary healthcare and in clinical specialist fields in a versatile manner, group and personal supervision, in-service training, as well as training in healthcare administration and social security.
  • A 16-hour training module in administration and social security will familiarise you with the social security system and administration in the healthcare sector. Information on the next available module is available on the website of the team for professional continuing education in general practice (in Finnish only).
  • Please register for specific training in general medical practice at the university where you completed your Licentiate of Medicine degree.

Further information in support of training

General medical practice is the largest among the 50 specialist fields in medicine. Of Finnish working-age specialists, 16% have a licence to practise medicine as specialists in general medical practice.

More about the work and skills of specialists in general medical practice:

  • Typical of the field are clinical expertise, a patient- and population-oriented approach to work, as well as an operating environment associated with primary healthcare.
  • Specialists in general medical practice are doctors who serve individuals, families and communities.
  • They are the personal doctors of their patients, working together with other healthcare professionals.
  • Specialists in general medical practice coordinate their patients’ paths in service networks.
  • Long-term treatment relationships established by general practitioners are typically broad-based, and they are familiar with the entire spectrum of human life. They take into consideration the physical, psychological, social and cultural aspects of their patients, as well as fundamental existential questions related to them.
  • Specialists in general medical practice are proficient in broad thematic topics.
  • The expertise of general practitioners includes knowledge of public health as well as the promotion of health and preventive measures.
  • They also contribute to the development of their work and the functioning of their work community.

Completing the training

  • The duration of the training is six years. It includes serving as a doctor in both primary healthcare and clinical specialist fields, personal guidance and related skills assessment, theoretical training, in-service training and training in immediate supervision.
  • The right to complete specialist training can be applied for twice per year, in February and September.
  • The application procedure includes an opening seminar and a roughly four-week online course to be completed after the seminar, where applicants consider their choice of profession and draw up a personal study plan for the next few years.

Opening seminars

Thematic training for specialising doctors

The primary healthcare unit of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa organises thematic training (link in Finnish only) for specialising doctors.

In support of completing the training

Autumn 2021

The University of Helsinki Centre for Continuing Education HY+ is responsible for the practical arrangements of the course.

  • 9 November 2021 Psychiatry and substance abuse medicine for general practitioners (The training will be held over a remote connection.)

Further information and registration (in Finnish only)

 

Research

The Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care aims to develop and support research in the field of primary healthcare conducted in the HUS catchment area for highly specialised medical care. Research and related collaboration are both broad-based and multiprofessional. We also take part in national and international research projects in general practice and primary healthcare. Further information on the department’s research activities is available in the University of Helsinki’s Research Portal.

Research groups

Research course in general medical practice

We organise a research course in general medical practice and the basics of clinical epidemiology (12 credits) to those planning/starting to write their doctoral thesis. Further information about the course is available on the Doctoral Programme in Population Health website. Helena Liira is the course coordinator.

Academic Health Centre

The Academic Health Centre is a partnership project of the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and the municipalities or federations of municipalities (South Karelia Social and Health Care District, Central Uusimaa Social and Health Care District, Social and Health Services in Kymenlaakso, the municipalities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa) which have concluded an agreement with the department. Its aim is to support research, primarily aimed at completing doctoral theses conducted by primary healthcare professionals. Further information is available on the Academic Health Centre website (in Finnish only). Merja Laine and Niko Wasenius serve as coordinators at the Academic Health Centre.

Contact details

Head of De­part­ment

Research Director, Lena Thorn
lena.thorn@helsinki.fi 

Ad­dress

The Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care is located in the third and fourth floors of the Biomedicum Helsinki 2 B building at the Meilahti Campus of the University of Helsinki.

Street address
Tukholmankatu 8 B
00290 Helsinki

Postal address
Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care
PO Box 20
00014 University of Helsinki

Tel: +358 294 1911 (switchboard)
Fax: +358 2941 27536 (eFax)