Language semester added to Programme for pharmacists with a foreign degree


The complementary programme for pharmacists with a foreign degree has proven a great success that contributes valuable competence into the Swedish labor market. This autumn, Uppsala University will expand the education with a language semester that will provide participants with important tools in their future profession.

Foreign Pharmacists redo for Complementary Programme at Uppsala University
Foreign Pharmacists redo for Complementary Programme at Uppsala University

During the height of the migrant crisis in the autumn of 2015, more than 162,000 people sought asylum in Sweden. Many of the refugees were highly educated with extensive professional experience, among them many pharmacists. In order to accelerate their entry into the Swedish labor market, Uppsala University was commissioned by the Ministry of Education and the National Board of Health and Welfare to coordinate and carry out complementary education and proficiency tests as a way to obtain a Swedish pharmacist license.

“In 2017, we initiated the very first complementary programme and recently we welcomed our eleventh batch of participants. Everyone is extremely motivated, more than 90 percent pass the education and today, the programme and the proficiency test account for more than every third application for a Swedish pharmacist license,” says Srebrenka Dobric, national coordinator at the Faculty of Pharmacy.

Eligibility requires foreign pharmacist training and documented skills in English and Swedish. For several participants, however, insufficient language skills has become a time thief and cause of stress during their studies. Teachers have also identified language barriers as an obstacle to knowledge transfer, and from the autumn term 2022, the complementary programme will expand with the third term Language Introduction to Academic Studies for Foreign Pharmacists.

Srebrenka Dobric, National Coordinator
Srebrenka Dobric, National Coordinator

“With increased language skills, our students will improve their capacities to participate in both academic contexts and future professional life. We have chosen to place the language semester at the start of the programme, and will, after an initial introduction to academic studies, focus on reading, writing and oral communication. This is an approach that we hope will strengthen both acquisition of knowledge and student integration from a gender equality perspective.”

The new language semester is developed in collaboration between the Faculty of Pharmacy and Uppsala University's Department of Nordic Languages. The alliance guarantees high-quality teaching of the Swedish language, while both course participants and the teachers in the pharmaceutical sciences will have the opportunity to experience complementary academic perspectives.

“The process has been very valuable for all parties, and we are already sketching out a potential "language streak" during the pharmaceutical courses of the complementary programme, in the form of specially designed tasks related to language skills. But first and foremost, we will approach the autumn semester with the aim to provide our students even better tools to communicate with colleagues, healthcare professionals and clients, which will also strengthen their conditions for long-term career development,” says Srebrenka Dobric.

The complementary programme is also offered at the University of Gothenburg, where the language semester has already been introduced successfully, providing the participants the opportunity to engage deeper in the Swedish language used in pharmacy.

“The language semester has been of high quality. I have improved my reading comprehension and can now read all publications and routines associated with competence development at the pharmacy where I work. It has also improved my communication with customers, colleagues and health care professionals, ensuring that the patients receive good and safe advice,” says one of the course participants.


  • The complementary programme for pharmacists with a foreign degree is a full-time education consisting of two or three semesters (70 or 100 higher education credits).
  • The longer education will include an introductory semester in the Swedish language with an emphasis on pharmacy in a Swedish context for participants who need it.
  • At registration, applicants will assess their language skills in the Swedish language. Applicants who state that they have sufficient language skills have to take a language test.
  • The level of the language test corresponds to the level of Test in Swedish for university and college studies (Tisus).



Srebrenka Dobric, National CoordinatorSrebrenka Dobric, National Coordinator
Department of Pharmacy

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Shima Momeni a o

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Last modified: 2024-04-08