More first-year spots are to open in Sweden's medical schools, dental schools and nursing schools during 2013 and 2014, according to the government's suggestion. 80 more spots for medical students, 29 for dental students, and 415 new nursing spots.
“In the long run, the healthcare profession is facing mass retirement. The average age of employees in the field is high, and we're educating too few to cover the demand,” said Björklund to the TT news agency.
The government wants to add between eight and 50 first-year spots at 19 different nursing programmes around the country.
Jan Björklund also suggested toughening the demands placed on Swedish counties finding internships for nursing students.
“We've had trouble over the years, getting the counties to participate. They all want educated nurses, but some haven't been good enough at offering internship spots.”
Björklund has now threatened to move education spots away from the schools in counties where internships are hard to find, to other areas of the country, where there are available internships.
“We're putting more pressure on the counties,” he said.
Björklund thinks 80 new spots for medical students will make a big difference.
“When you consider that it's a life-long profession, we'll reach thousands of extra doctors in a few decades,” he said.
This fall, 10,548 hopefuls were standing in the reserve line for medical school, hoping to get accepted into one of Sweden's medical programmes.
In the spring of 2011, Örebro University began accepting medical students, and is the seventh university to have a medical school, after Umeå, Gothenburg, Uppsala, Linköping, Lund and Karolinska in Stockholm.
“It's not enough. We need to expand the other six schools as well,” Björklund said.
In 2013 and 2014, extra spots will be opening up in Linköping and Gothenburg, but there's no eighth medical school in sight yet.