Switzerland is a relatively small but very important country in Europe. Most of its territory is occupied by the Alps, while the majority of the population lives on the plateau where important economic centers like Basel, Geneva, and the capital, Zurich are located.
Famous for its chocolate and winter resorts, Switzerland is also one of the most developed countries in the world, boasting the highest nominal wealth per adult. It is a crucial country for foreign trade and relations, and this reputation, along with the beautiful landscapes and living conditions has made it one of the top destinations for foreign professionals to move to in Europe. In this article, we will go over the steps to become a doctor in Switzerland.
- Free Medical Schools for International Students
- How to Study Medicine in Switzerland
- How to Study in Switzerland for Free
1. Learning the languages of Switzerland
The subject of language can be a little tricky when it comes to Switzerland, as there are 4 official languages in the country: German, Italian, French, and Romansh. Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn every single one of those to be allowed to work as a doctor in Switzerland, as learning one of German, Italian or French is enough.
Of course, depending on the language that you chose, you should probably seek employment in a region in Switzerland where that language is spoken. There is a good chance that you are already familiar with at least one of these 3 languages, so the language barrier in Switzerland is not that huge compared to some other countries. As far as requirements go, doctors need to prove that they possess at least a C1 level of knowledge in at least one of the languages, to be allowed to work in Switzerland as a medical professional. Which language is required depends on the canton that one is applying for.
2. Study in Swiss Medical Schools to Become a Doctor in Switzerland
Swiss universities are some of the best in Europe, and many people from all over the continent and beyond choose Switzerland as their destination for study. Medical students are no exception, and there are thousands of them applying to universities in Switzerland each year. Due to admission restrictions, not everyone is accepted in the schools, and there is an aptitude test carried out each year to select the students with the highest scores. Spots in medical schools across the country are limited, and potential candidates should contact their chosen university for further information.
As is the case with other European countries, medical education in Switzerland lasts for 6 years, the first 3 of which are bachelor’s, followed by 3 additional years of master’s education.
3. Required Tests and Residency
There are no extra tests or examinations after you finish medical school in Switzerland, or prior to starting your residency. However, graduates from outside the EEA are required to pass both parts of the Swiss federal medical exam, to be accepted for a residency in Switzerland, which is the first step in becoming a medical doctor in Switzerland.
After the completion of medical studies, all graduates from Switzerland or other Schengen countries can start their residency in Switzerland. Residency is applied for like you would apply for any job, and there are no special qualifications or grade requirements for you to fulfill. No extra examinations are required prior to or after the completion of your residency in Switzerland, but if you want to continue working there after the residency, you will need to take the Swiss federal medical exam.
4. Obtaining a Medical License
Switzerland has some of the most rigorous processes for obtaining a medical license in Europe, for both Swiss nationals and foreigners. There are 3 main ways to become medically licensed in the country.
The first is to graduate from a Swiss Medical school, after which you become immediately eligible for a residency, and then for taking the final medical exam before getting your license. The second option is to apply for a 3-year residency in Switzerland, for which you will first need to pass both parts of the national medical examination. The final option is to work for 2 more years as a resident, so a total of 5 years, after which you can get medically licensed by only passing the written part of the medical exam.
After completing one of these steps, you become a licensed doctor in Switzerland, and the final step is to register with the local Cantonal Medical Office.
5. Getting a Work Visa
All citizens of Schengen countries are allowed to start working as a doctor in Switzerland, if they possess a medical license, of course. Other foreigners will also need a residence permit on top of the medical qualifications and license. In order to be allowed to stay In the country for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for the Swiss National Visa.
While applying for a regular Schengen Visa can be done online, the National Visa has to be applied for at your local Swiss embassy. The visa application process is generally quick and easy, at least once you get an appointment with the embassy, but please take into consideration that you first need to find employment before applying for a visa. You can find more personalized info on Switzerland’s online visa system.
6. Finding Jobs as a Doctor
There are many websites where you can look for employment in Switzerland, and apply directly. There is also another way to get your foot in the door of a Swiss hospital, and that is by applying for an “Assistenzart” position. You will need to pass a difficult test and have at least a B2 knowledge of German, but you will need that anyway if you want to become a doctor in Switzerland. You can apply for an Assistenzart position with the Bundesamt fur Gesundheit (BAG), by sending them an e-mail.
Private practitioners are also in high demand in Switzerland, especially in rural areas. Opening up your own practice is fairly straightforward, and being licensed to work as a medical professional in Switzerland is the only requirement you need to meet. However, knowledge of the local language is also very crucial, particularly for rural areas that are ideal for private practitioners.
7. How Foreign-trained doctors can work in Switzerland
All foreign-trained doctors with a degree from a country that is a member of the EEA can start working in Switzerland using the license that they obtained in their home country, if they meet the language requirements, They will also need to register for a permit from the Cantonal Medical Office (KAZA), in the canton that they want to move in. For example, if one wishes to work in Zurich, he will need to apply with the local Health Administration. The process for doctors from outside the EEA is a little more complicated, as they first need to sort out their work visas and find employment in a Swiss hospital. They will also need to pass the Swiss federal medical exam to be allowed to start working in the country as a medical professional, in addition to getting a permit from the local canton.
I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page.