There are 44 recognised medical specialties in Norway of which eight are subspecialties under internal medicine and five are subspecialties under general surgery. The majority of the specialties relate to health services in institutions (hospitals).
Specialties in primary health care are family medicine, community medicine, and occupational medicine.
More than half (53.6 %) of Norway´s 18,000 active physicians have qualified as specialists, most of them are serving in senior hospital or other senior medical posts. Specialist approval is a minimum requirement for appointment to a senior medical post. Although the minimum period of residency required is about five to six years, physicians receive their specialist approval on average nearly nine years after receiving a permanent licence.
For each specialty there is a specialty committee of five members who are responsible for the content of the training, for the granting of specialist approvals, and for the accreditation of hospitals for graduate medical education.
The NMA´s Council for Graduate Medical Education is charged with monitoring specialist training. Its 14 members represent the faculties of medicine, the Norwegian Board of Health, patient associations and various units within the NMA.
The 44 medical societies (associations of physicians with shared professional interests) work closely with the relevant specialty committees and provide the coursework required in their disciplines. Seven occupational branches organise members with shared occupational interests (self-employed/employed, in junior or senior post and so on) in relation to tradeunion or service, provide contract issues and organise training of their elected officers.
Organisation of training, courses
Graduate medical education requires a minimum of four to five years of residency in the main subject and, in most subjects, one year in a subsidiary subject. A certain amount of coursework is also required, on average 150 hours. In most disciplines some of these courses are mandatory; there are also specific requirements in relation to procedures and skills, which have to be documented by attestation forms, check lists and so on. Instruction is organised by the NMA in co-operation with the four Norwegian medical schools: roughly 350 courses each year in the 44 specialties.
Hospital departments eligible for training specialists have to be approved; the criteria evaluated are staffing, patients, equipment, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and training plans, including plans for the tutorials. A tutor must be assigned to each resident. Approved training institutions are evaluated annually by reports on their teaching activities.