PhD education of clinicians at Karolinska University

PhD education of clinicians at Karolinska University Hospital ñ a case for combined clinical training and research

Per M. Hellstrˆm, M.D. Ph.D.

Member of board for Postgraduate Education

Karolinska Institutet

SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden



The Karolinska University Hospital today comprises the Huddinge and Solna sites, with the main responsibility for hospital medical care in Stockholm County. Each hospital has about 800 beds and in addition numerous out-patient wards. The staff holds 800-1000 medical doctors at each site covering a host of medical specialities which form the basis of advanced medical care in an academic setting. The basis of the hospital is to combine education, research and medical care at equal proportions in order to fulfill the goal of a unique athmosphere for development and future.

One of the main tasks of the Karolinska University Hospital is to recruit young and able doctors who are capable of carrying this goal forward and continue to work in an academic setting. In order to enable a clinical carreer combined with research an agreement between Karolinska Institutet and the Hospital has been reached with the aim of creating attractive work positions covering both clinical and research time. Thus, research-internship positions have been constructed as an 18-month period of clinical work combined with a 12-month period of research activity. Karolinska Institutet and the Hospital contribute equally to the basic economy for these positions. It is required that the applicants should have their basic research activity at Karolinska Institutet, either as PhD-student or postdoc, with support from the head of their ìhomeî department. The aim of the research-internship is to enable scientific work alongside with clinical training.

Each year 12 positions are allotted starting in February and September. These positions are widely advertised and attract both young researchers in the beginning of their research education, as well as postdocs who intend to build up their clinical knowledge and future contacts for cooperative work with colleagues in the clinic. Retrospectively, these combined research-internship position have been of great value for both Karolinska Institutet and the Hospital. Young doctors, recently graduated or still within their PhD-education, have had the possibility to bridge their knowledge from the lab bench to the clinical setting which has opened up new possibilities among clinically active colleagues. This has also led to a continuous stream of talented fellows that remain in the clinical work, many of which evolving into a prosperous career with strategic, administrative as well as clinical responsibilities.

In the future, there are now plans to create a research-fellowship programme, supposed to stimulate young researchers to continue their research activities to become a daily routine in the clinical setting.