This part of the site presents issues specific for health care professionals.

Nurses are the most numerous group of employees adding up to about 25% of all employees and 40% of health care professionals. The second and third largest groups of health care professionals are medical doctors and nurse associates each group adding up to about 20% of health care professionals. Nurses are also the largest group of foreign professionals.

On the website of the Parliament you find the law for the licencing of health care professions including the EEA directive 2005/36/EC replacing numerous former ones and the new Icelandic directive 461/2011 for EEA citizens. All health care professionals that wish to work in Iceland must be registration / licenced in Iceland. 

A national registration is under no circumstances accepted solely. This applies also to Nordic citizens/ Nordic registrations.  Application and information is at the Directorate of Health (Landlæknir). Detailed information for nurses are here on the Landspitali website. In general the same rule applies to other professions.

The Regulation for Scientific Research in the Health care Sector is adminstrated by the Ministry of Welfare. At the ministry website you find all law and regulations that regard scientific research and people.

On the Scientific site of Landspitali you find the Landspitali research committee, strategy and research grants.

Research at Landspitali is subject to authorisation by one of the hospital committees. Applications for research concernig patients are made to the Scientific Ethical Committee. Applications for research concerning staff are made to the Public Administratin Committee (email:

For further information please contact the Division of Research, Education and Innovation.

The University of Iceland, Faculty of Nursing and Landspitali jointly operate and Institution for Nursing Research.  

The Research Centre within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland has four institutes / centres. Links to research grants are provided on the site.

Registered Nurses of foreign origin are the largest group of foreign employees at Landspitali. This part of the website presents issues that are specific for foreign nurses but nurses need to consult the general pages as well. 

There is different legislation regarding the registration of foreign nurses in Iceland depending on whether the nurse has received his/her nursing education and original licence/registration in a state that is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) or not. On the website of the Parliament (Althingi) you find Law on Nursing. There you also find the law for other health care professions such as Nurse Associates, the regulation for a Specialist Licence in Nursing and the EEA agreement (all in Icelandic only).

EEA members

Nurses who received their nursing education and original licence/registration in a state that is a member of the EEA, can apply for recognition of their license in Iceland. Knowledge of Icelandic is not required but this will probably change in 2010 with a new legislation for health care professionals. The EEA agreement for health care professions is at the website of the Parliament (in Icelandic). Applications are made to the Directorate of Health and they require the following documents. To ensure that this information is updated, you are adviced to contact them.

1. A certified proof of your citizenship in an EEA country. A certified photocopy of your passport is sufficient.
2. A statement from the competent authorities in your home country that your training for basic qualifications complies with the training standards laid down in directive 77/452/EBE Article 3, and directive 77/453/EBE Art.1.
3. A certified copy of your diploma showing that you are registered as a nurse in your home country.
4. A certificate of good standing of your licence with the competent authority in the Member State of origin or last residence. This certificate must not be older than three months to ensure its up-to-date validity.

Non-EEA members

The procedure is more complicated. The Nursing Council of Iceland (on behalf of the Directorate of Health) evaluates the educational background (based on the EEA standards). This commonly takes a few months and does not necessary lead to a licence to practice nursing (RN) in Iceland. Even though the length of the nursing studies is not the sole influencing factor, the minimum of a 36 months nursing program is required. A license is also not granted until a certain level of fluency in Icelandic can be verified. They require the following documents. To ensure that this information is updated, you are adviced to contact them.

1. Certified true copy of your permanent address. A certified true copy of your passport is sufficient.
2. Certified true copy of your nursing licence. The certificate must not be older than 3 months to ensure its up-to-date validity.
3. Certified true copy of your diploma or nursing degree.
4. Certified true copy of details of the nursing studies programme: an outline of the curriculum, the length of the program, a description of the courses with the number of lectures, discussions and clinical work.
5. Certificate of your fluency in Icelandic.

For both groups

All these documents must be "certified true copies" by the respective authorities - photocopies of documents are not accepted. Furthermore, these documents should be written in English or a Nordic language and any translations should be certified by a governmental authority or an official translator. An application form in English is not available. 

Please send your application and documents to:
Landlaeknisembættid (Umsokn um hjukrunarleyfi), Barónsstíg 47, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland.

Please address all further inquiries directly to The Directorate of Health. 

email:, phone 354-5101900, fax 354-5101919.

When you have receieved green light from the Directorate, you are welcome to apply for a nurse's post at Landspitali. You may also contact us previously for information regarding possible employment.

Regulations regarding residence and work permits you find on the "Daily life" site, section "Employment".

The Chief Nursing Executive is a member of the Executive Board (Framkvæmdastjórn) of the hospital. She is the professional leader of nursing at the hospital. Each of the six clinical divisions (svið) has a director (Framkvæmdastjóri) jointly for all services and professions. Each division is divided into several wards (deild) each managed by a Manager of Nursing (deildarstjóri) in regard to nursing matters.

After basic nursing education, a BSc degree, all nurses (hjúkrunarfræðingur) can register to become Registered Nurses (RN) (hjúkrunarleyfi). They work with and supervise Nurse Associates (sjúkraliði). In some divisions, people without certified health care education is hired and work under the supervision of nurses. Nurses are also members of various interdisciplinary teams and employed in non-clinical sectors. We have Nurse Specialists (sérfræðingar í hjúkrun) in all clinical divisions as well as Nurse Academic Manager for various areas of practice. The hospital is the main teaching institution for nurse graduates and postgraduate students. The University of Iceland, Faculty of Nursing and Landspitali jointly operate an Institution for Nursing Research that is based at the Faculty of Nursing in the hospital Landspitali Hringbraut area.

We have a  Nursing Council (Hjúkrunarráð) at the hospital that is independent from the administration and acts as an advisory and support body to the board.  It also runs weekly professional lectures and organizes a yearly Week of Nursing in May.

The integration program is adjusted to individual needs. The following are the main components of the program: 

  • Training in the respective clinical ward with a preceptor for the time necessary
  • Assistance in finding courses in Icelandic and possibly a financial support for attending courses
  • This website in English
  • Welcome introductory file with general practical and professional information (not unit-specific) in English
  • Short integration courses on professional issues according to demand
  • Continuous support from the liaison nurse for foreign nurses, Hildur Magnúsdóttir.

Information material in English - Induction to work at Landspitali, issues specific for nurses:
Issues that apply to all new foreign employees are introduced at "International employees", nurses are expected to read that material as well.  The material focuses on professional health care issues and Landspitali. Information regarding living in Iceland is best retrieved from directly or via our site "Daily life."     

The Clinical Advancement (and salary) System- Starfsfþróun -  for nurses at the hospital is based on the theory of Patricia Benner (1984)* of nurses' professional advancement. Information about the system is only available at our inner website and in Icelandic.

The salaries nurses receive are not based on the number of years a nurse has worked at the hospital. A part of it depends on education but for the main part it requires the nurse to apply for a raise in accordance with her/his professional advancement. The application is made to the nurse manager. Newly employed nurse can apply after 6 months. After that performance is valuatied yearly in a formal interview and advancement is made to the next level and with levels according to the results. Raise in salaries can follow but it is not expected to happen every year. An article explaining the system was published 2007 in the Journal of Icelandic Nurses (83-5,18-22). The system has changes a bit since but it still rests on the same assumptions.

The system consists of four sections:
I Clinical nursing
II Co-operation and team work
III Administration and Project management
IV Research and Development projects

As a result of the evaluation each nurse is assigned a Job Description (Starfslýsing). The theory of Patricia Benner is used as the framework for the job descriptions. They are described and divided into increasing competence, responsibility and scope of work. The job descriptions are:   

  • Nurse A is a beginner.
  • Nurse B is an advanced beginner.
  • Nurse C is competent.
  • Nurse D-k is proficient. Emphasis on clinical work.
  • Nurse D-s is proficient. Emphasis on administration.
  • Nurse E is an expert in a specific area of practice and normally has an MSc degree in nursing.

The Job Develoment Scheme (Starfsþróunarbók) is only in Icelandic. They are four; A, B, C and D). The first 10 pages of each scheme are identical and describe the foundation of the system.

* Benner, P. (1984). From novice to expert.Excellence and power in clinical nursing practice.California: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.

A phenomenological study on the experiences of foreign nurses working in hospitals in Iceland was conducted 2003 by Hildur Magnusdottir.  Eleven foreign nurses from seven countries and three continents were interviewed.  More than half of the nurses worked at Landspitali. The study was published and is available in the International Nursing Review 52: 253-269, 275 (2005) (English) and in the Journal of Icelandic Nurses 83:1, 32-36 (2007) (Icelandic).

A few useful articles related to the history of nursing in Iceland have been published.  An article about the history of nursing in Iceland, "The construction of a profession: a study of the history of nursing in Iceland, was published in the Nursing Inquiry, 3:1, 13-22 (1996) by Kristin Bjornsdottir.  Kristin also published the article "Religon, modernity and foreign nurses in Iceland 1896-1930"in Iceland in Nursing Inquiry, 11:3, 166-175 (2004). Thorbjorg Arnadottir wrote the article "Nursing in Iceland"  in The American Journal of Nursing, 50; 24, 221-222 (1950) and Thordur Kristinsson presented a lecture at a conference in Iceland 2004 called "Fields of masculinity: Icelandic men in nursing."  Then Matthias Halldorsson and Vaida Bankauskaita have published an extensive paper as a part of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (2003) named "Health care systems in transition" that includes a historical section. 

The Icelandic Nurses' Association (INA) is a professional organisation and labour union for all nurses in Iceland and and the only one of its kind in Iceland. All individuals who are authorised to practice nursing in Iceland can apply for memebership.  At the same time these individuals receive salaries in accordance with collective agreements made on their behalf by the association and pay membership fees to the association which are based on their standard salaries.

Please note that one needs to apply formally for membership, it does not occur automatically.  Furthermore, receiving salaries according to the INA collective agreement (as stated on the payslip /salary statement) does not include membership.  Nurses with a registration from a country outside the European Econmomic Area (EEA) and have received a positive evaluation by the Nursing Council / Directorate of Health but await sufficient fluency in Icelandic in order to be authorised to practice nursing in Iceland, can apply for temporary membership and are strongly advised to do so.  Application form is available on the website of the INA and is to be accompanied by the Icelandic nursing licence / evaluation of the Nursing Council.

INA has English pages with a lot of useful information for example the rules for the various support funds open to members. The association publishes a journal (tímarit). The Nurse Associates and Midwives have their own associations but they do not have English pages.