Exchange in Estonia
Estonia is SCOPE and SCORE active. Clinical exchanges are mainly conducted in Tartu University Hospital and we have many different departments to choose from. Research exchange opportunities depend on the current active projects we have to offer. Most of them are also based in University of Tartu.
As all IFMSA SCOPE and SCORE active countries should, we strive to maintain and improve the academic quality of our exchanges. Participants are required to attend a minimum of 80% of clinic days and fill out their handbook to be eligible for the certificate of exchange. All our tutors are fluent in English and involve exchange students in their day-to-day work as much as possible. We also provide incoming students with various training courses, some of them with academic quality, for example ultrasound and triage workshops, and discussions on global health.
In addition to ensuring you the best experience at the hospital, we also have an amazing social program! You will have the possibility to discover Estonia and its culture through sightseeing, meeting locals, and experiencing our way of life. We promise that the memories you make in Estonia – whether it is the wonders of our pristine nature, the regal Old Town of Tallinn, or the laid back atmosphere and spirit of Tartu – will be something you will treasure forever!
We pride ourselves on our international social program. Together with FiMSIC and LaMSA we have created two weekend-based social programs to provide you with a wonderful opportunity to visit our neighbouring countries Finland and Latvia.
Any questions you might have will be answered by our exchanges team. Do not hesitate to contact our National Exchange Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Estonian Medical Students’ Association (EstMSA) is an NGO that connects and represents all medical students in Estonia. University of Tartu is the only university in Estonia that has a medical faculty, therefore EstMSA is also located in Tartu. EstMSA has been a member of IFMSA since 1993. Our vision is that one day the happiest and healthiest people (in the world) will live in Estonia, and we are working hard in the form of different initiatives and projects to achieve that goal.
EstMSA consists of 10 standing committees: SCOPE & SCORE, SCOME, SCOPH, SCORA, SCORP, Standing Committee on Environmental Health, Standing Committee on Involvement in Science, Standing Committee on Sports and Physical Activity, Standing Committee on Internal Events, and last but not least, the standing committee that publishes our NMO’s magazine Curare.
EstMSA is led by an executive board consisting of 5 officials together with the Heads of all standing committees. All standing committees provide our medical students with a wide range of opportunities for extracurricular self-development, which helps to create a happier environment amongst both medical students and all Estonians. We organise a variety of events which enable medical students to become more aware about different problems in our society and help them acquire medical skills which are not sufficiently addressed in our medical curriculum.
Every standing committee has its own projects that are targeted at the general public. We actively provide lectures on mental health and comprehensive sexuality education for secondary schools. We also give first aid seminars in schools or organise teddy bear hospitals for younger children, where they can learn about the basics of first aid, which in turn helps to alleviate their fears related to medical procedures. In addition, we educate the elderly on how to maintain their health and mobility.
EstMSA is also teaming up with birth and parenting courses, where our members provide young parents information on vaccination and try to combat general vaccine related myths and misconceptions. We have always assumed an active role in the society in matters related to discrimination and human rights, and come to the defence of different vulnerable groups in our society.
EstMSA has been one of the leading voices when it comes to gender equality, marriage equality and LGBTQIA+ rights. We participate actively in societal debates on various topics, for example on alcohol excise, climate change, and the age of consent.
Health Care System
Information about the Estonian healthcare system can be found on the Estonian Health Insurance Fund’s website.
Students can apply to medical school straight after graduating high school, however it’s also common to have studied something else previously. Being a relatively small country, Estonia has only one medical school – University of Tartu. The studies last 6 years – the first 2,5 years are preclinical, followed by 2,5 years of clinical studies. The final year is an internship consisting of clinical rotations in various departments. At the end of the sixth year students must take the final examination. After graduation it is possible to enroll in residency programs at home or abroad.
For more information and latest news on our medical faculty, you can check the University of Tartu Faculty of Medicine’s website.
Tartu hosts a small and cozy airport with a direct connection to Helsinki, so you have the opportunity to arrange your travel plans to arrive straight in Tartu! Tartu Airport is about 10 km from the city centre. You can easily get to and from by taking the airport shuttle bus or a taxi, or if you’re lucky, your contact person might be able to pick you up!
The most common option is to arrive in Tallinn, however. As the capital of Estonia, Tallinn Airport has a lot more flight connections than Tartu. You can easily get to Tartu from the airport by bus or by booking ahead to take the Airport Shuttle Tartaline – in case you arrive late at night. You can buy bus tickets from Tpilet or Lux Epress. There is also the option to take a train from the nearby train station called Ülemiste, which is only a few stops from the airport by tram. Train tickets can be bought onboard or purchased ahead from Elron. The previously listed links will also be of use if you want to travel around in Estonia.
In case you want to explore Tallinn, you can find public transportation options here.
If you are travelling to Estonia through Riga (Latvia), you will benefit from the regular bus connection between Riga and Tartu. There are two websites for buying tickets – ECOLINES and Lux Express. You can always ask your contact person for additional information.
Concerning the transportation and getting around in Tartu – since the hospital is about a 30 min walk from the student accommodation, we recommend registering with the smart bike service here, or purchasing your public transportation ticket here. Your contact person will help you buy the card and monthly bus pass. Be sure to link your ISIC card with the bus system, that way you can purchase a monthly bus ticket for under 10€. Keep your ISIC card with you to get student discounts at other public services, too! The bus schedules can be found here or from an app called Tartu Bussiajad.
Here you can find more information about Tartu!
Be ready for an Upon Arrival Training, a welcome party, a national food and drinks party, also picnics, hikes, and excursions to wonderful places around Estonia, and occasional bigger trips to our neighbouring countries. There is a great variety of activities to entertain yourself while being on an exchange in Estonia. Some of them will be free, some events will have a fee which you will have to cover.
One good link is better than a 1000 words… http://www.visitestonia.com/en/things-to-see-do
Estonians are very nice in general, even though they may seem somewhat distant or quiet. But you should keep in mind to always be on time – we are not used to waiting on people and find it extremely disrespectful. Our mindset about time is that “if you arrive on time, you are already 5 minutes late”. This applies to your arrival to the clinic as well as the social program!
Estonians also appreciate their personal space a lot more than our friends in Southern Europe. We may seem a bit cold at the beginning, but if you can make an Estonian smile or better yet, actually laugh, it’s a sign that you have won our trust.
Other Important Information
Some funny and educational videos about Estonia and Estonians, mainly made by foreigners:
- Is ESTONIA the European SILICON VALLEY? by VisualPolitik EN – this explains our e-country very well
- Geography Now! Estonia – some actual geography and facts
- Estonia Built the Society of the Future from Scratch by Beme News – another good video about Estonia’s e-government and some information about our healthcare system
Marta Kotkas and Triinu Johanna Lume
National Exchange Officer and National Officer on Research Exchange
+39 349 6467769 (Triinu Johanna Lume)