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Switzerland is a tiny European nation. Regardless of its size, Switzerland has a population of 8.6 million people served by just 38,000 doctors. As a result, the number of primary care physicians in Switzerland is falling, and the currently practicing physicians will have difficulty finding successors. Nonetheless, Switzerland’s doctor shortage resulted in various opportunities to move to Switzerland as a doctor.

German, Italian, and French doctors are allowed to practice in Switzerland, filling the vacancies created by Swiss medical students who decided to study overseas. Despite having international training, almost three-quarters of the doctors would return to practice in Switzerland. 

This article will explain how to move to Switzerland as a doctor, the salaries, the application process, etc.

Are Doctors in Demand in Switzerland?

Yes. Statistics reveal that the medical profession is aging and that the number of doctors with foreign credentials is increasing. Last year, half of the 39,222 physicians in Switzerland were 50 or older, and a fourth were 60 or older.

Is It Hard to Move to Switzerland as a Doctor?

Despite the difficult and lengthy path to becoming a doctor, Swiss education is well-recognized worldwide. Switzerland seems to maintain educational quality through stringent applications and low acceptance rates.

Switzerland also continues to demonstrate that it is a welcoming environment for doctors, particularly physicians, to advance their careers. For example, a first-year residency post for a physician earns twice as much as the equivalent position in Germany. In addition, Switzerland’s highly structured framework for money, paperwork, and workflow ensures that doctors may stay collected and avoid overworking themselves despite employment demands.

How to Move to Switzerland as a Doctor?

There are several steps that, if satisfied, will allow foreigners to move to Switzerland as doctors.

  • Get recognition of your diploma.
  • Get a job.
  • Get a work permit and possibly a resident permit.
  • Match the language requirements.

Move to Switzerland as a Doctor: Direct Recognition of the Diploma

You can apply for direct recognition if you 

  • Finished your diploma in an EU/EFTA state; or
  • Are a citizen of an EU/EFTA state; or
  • Are married to an EU/EFTA citizen. 

Some standards must be met before applying for immediate recognition of the diploma. Otherwise, immediate diploma recognition is not feasible.

Requirements for Direct Recognition of the Diploma

The following are the conditions for receiving a diploma from an EU/EFTA nation that can be accepted in Switzerland:

  • The applicant is a Swiss citizen or a citizen of the EU or EFTA, or the applicant’s legal partner is a citizen of one of these States;
  • The diploma and various extra credentials are per the designation specified in EU Directive 2005/36/EG or the EFTA Convention.
  • The authority specified in the EU Directive or the EFTA Convention granted the diploma.

The following papers are also required. In addition, MEBEKO has the right to request additional documents:

  • A dated and signed application form.
  • Original certified copy of the passport or identification card and, if applicable, original certified copies of the passports or identification card of the spouse and marriage certificate.
  • A signed resume’.
  • Original certified copy or original of an official translated version of the diploma(s), if appropriate if the diploma is not issued in German, French, Italian, or English.

Note: If you have only temporary confirmation of a diploma and/or your diploma in the following countries, you must also submit the following documents:

Bulgaria

Slovenia

Belgium

Slovakia

Malta

Cyprus

Portugal

Denmark

Estonia

Iceland

Sweden

Latvia

Netherlands

Czech Republic

Lithuania

Romania

Finland

Hungary

Norway

Great Britain

Greece

Poland

Croatia

  • An original certified copy of a certificate of conformity from the appropriate authority stating that your diploma conforms with EU Directive 2005/36/EC.
  • Original certified copy or original of the official translated version of the conformance certificate if the issuance language is not German, French, Italian, or English.

Move to Switzerland as a Doctor: Indirect Recognition of the Diploma

You can use indirect recognition if your diploma was received outside the EU/EFTA but was previously legally recognized in an EU/EFTA state. 

Requirements for indirect recognition of the diploma

You must meet the following requirements:

  • You or your spouse are Swiss citizens or Swiss nationals living in an EU or EFTA country.
  • An EU or EFTA nation has validated your diploma.
  • In the previous 5 years, you have earned at least 3 years of clinical experience in Switzerland and/or the country of recognition.
  • You have at least level B2 of fluency in the official Swiss language.

Move to Switzerland as a Doctor: Registration of a Non-Recognizable Foreign University Medical Diploma

A doctor must obtain a federal diploma if the requirements for direct or indirect diploma recognition are not met. The Medical Professions Commission (MEBEKO) decides on the requirements. 

Requirements for the Registration of Non-Recognizable Diplomas

If all of the following factors are completed, a non-recognized foreign university diploma can be placed in the Medical Professions Register (MedReg):

  • Foreign diploma holders are entitled to practice their university medical profession in their issuing country under professional supervision within the meaning of the MedBG; and
  • Your gained overseas diploma is based on training that satisfies the basic standards listed below:
    • Doctors: Having completed six years of full-time study at an equivalent university or college with a minimum of 5,500 hours of theory and practice;
    • Dentists: The training period should be at least five years of full-time study or 5,000 hours of practical and theoretical training and instruction at a university or college that has achieved an equivalent level of training;
    • Chiropractors: Having completed six years of full-time study at an equivalent university or college with a minimum of 5,500 hours of theory and practice;
    • Pharmacists: To obtain an undergraduate degree, one must attend a university or college with a recognized equivalent level of study for at least five years or 4,500 hours of alternating theoretical and practical instruction;
    • Veterinarians: To obtain an undergraduate degree, one must attend a university or college with a recognized equivalent level of study for at least five years or 4,500 hours of alternating theoretical and practical instruction.

You must present the documents below for an examination by the MEBEKO:

  • Current resume’
  • Identity verification
  • Certificate of Matura (plus official translation)
  • Diploma (Including official translation) 
  • Names of examinations taken during the study (plus official translation)
  • Detailed documentation of professional experience overseas, if available. These data include the duration, function, and level of employment. These documents must also be officially translated.

How to Get a Federal Diploma in Medical Professions?

In general, anyone with a human, dental, veterinary, or pharmacy degree from a country other than the EU or EFTA cannot have it recognized in Switzerland. However, if your diploma cannot be recognized, you can earn the Federal Diploma regardless of the applicant’s nationality.

MEBEKO Department Training:

  • Determines the federal examination admission requirements; and
  • Considers previous job experience; and
  • Determines if the federal inspection must be done completely or in parts.

The qualifications for receiving a federal diploma are decided on an individual basis. Applications must be sent with a fee to the Federal Office of Public Health, MEBEKO, Department of Education, 3003 Bern.

In federal law, one can only practice professionally under their professional responsibility under private law. Whether a profession is authorized to be practiced in the public or private sector is solely the responsibility of the cantons.

Acquiring a federal diploma for those whose foreign diplomas are not accepted in Switzerland for human, dentistry, veterinary, pharmacy, and chiropractic medicine is held once a year. It is only accessible in German and French.

An application to MEBEKO must include the following documents:

  • An application form that is completed and signed;
  • Your resume’;
  • Identity proof;
  • Copy of your diploma with official translation;
  • Names of tests taken during the course and their official translation;
  • Proof of professional experience overseas and an official translation, if available;
  • Evidence of professional experience in Switzerland, if available

MEBEKO’s address is “Federal Office of Public Health, MEBEKO, Education Department, 3003 Bern, Switzerland.”

The application processing cost will range between CHF 800 and CHF 1,000. (determined by the MEBEKO). The fees for enrolling for the exam, taking the exam, and receiving the federal diploma will be charged later.

Tips for Indirect Recognition and Non-Recognizable Diplomas

  • Send this form, together with any relevant papers, to the address shown below:
  • Federal Office of Public Health, MEBEKO, Schwarzenburgstrasse 157, CH – 3003 Bern.
    • Phone number: +41 58 462 94 83 
    • Fax number: +41 58 463 00 09
  • You cannot take back your submitted documents.

For indirect recognition:

  • The MEBEKO reviews the application.
  • A cost of CHF 800.00 to 1,000.00 will be imposed if the application is complete.
  • As soon as the payment is received, MEBEKO will send you the notice of recognition and the appropriate ID card.

For non-recognizable diplomas:

  • Applicants who live outside of Switzerland must provide a corresponding address in Switzerland.
  • The charge for registering ranges between CHF 800.00 and 1,200.00.
  • A CHF 390.00 advance payment will be collected as soon as the registration application is received. A payment slip with the essential account details will be mailed to you. The MEBEKO training department only handles full applications for which advance payment has been provided.
  • MEBEKO has the right to seek more documents at any time during the procedure.
Infographic How to Immigrate and Move to Switzerland as a Doctor

Move to Switzerland as a Doctor: Language Proficiency

Anyone seeking a medical career in Switzerland must be fluent in the language of the job. Besides seeking recognition for your foreign diploma, you can have your German, French, and Italian knowledge documented. However, you must pay an extra CHF 50.00 – 100.00 per language. 

One of the following documents (original or original certified copy) is required:

  • Obtain a language diploma internationally recognized at least at the level B2 of the CEFR for Languages, with no more than six years of experience, or
  • A university medical professional degree in the corresponding language; or
  • A minimum of three years experience in the relevant language within the last ten years in the university medical profession concerned.

Move to Switzerland as a Doctor: Getting a Switzerland Work Visa

All Schengen nationals are permitted to begin working as doctors in Switzerland, provided they have a medical license. Besides the medical credentials and license, other foreigners will require a Swiss residency permit. In addition, to be permitted to stay in the country for more than 90 days, you must apply for a Switzerland long-stay visa, commonly known as a national or D-visa.

While a typical Schengen Visa may be obtained online, a National Visa must be obtained from your local Swiss consulate. The visa application procedure is often quick and uncomplicated, at least after you have an appointment with the embassy. However, remember that you must find work before applying for a visa. 

Finally, you will apply for a work permit from the KAZA or the Cantonal Medical Office specialized to the canton where you intend to relocate.

Move to Switzerland as a Doctor: Finding Jobs as a Doctor

There are several websites where you may search for and apply for jobs in Switzerland. Another option is to apply for an “Assistenzarzt” post. To become a doctor in Switzerland, you must pass a big test and have at least a B2 level of German understanding. Send an email to the Bundesamt für Gesundheit (BAG) to apply for an Assistenzarzt post.

In Switzerland, private practitioners are also in great demand, particularly in rural regions. Opening your practice is simple, and the only prerequisite is to be licensed as a medical practitioner in Switzerland. However, understanding the local language is also essential, especially in rural areas where private practitioners thrive.

How Much is a Doctor’s Salary in Switzerland?

Now the sweet part. We want to answer the question: “How much does a doctor in Switzerland make?”

In Switzerland, being a doctor is a very common professional path. Considering the income and job prospects offered, it’s easy to see why. Moreover, the job market has also been rising at about 5% each year, with a continuous supply of new students entering the medical industry.

In Switzerland, a Doctor / Physician normally makes roughly 291,000 CHF annually. However, doctors’ salaries vary from 107,000 CHF to 492,000 CHF. This is the average annual pay, which includes housing, transportation, and other amenities. 

What are the Benefits of Moving to Switzerland as a Doctor?

Switzerland has the best healthcare in Europe

The Swiss healthcare system was awarded the gold medal in a comparison of 35 European nations and had a long history of excellence. Switzerland is far and away the finest regarding access to medical services.

Switzerland has experts in all areas of medicine

Switzerland has world-class medical expertise. Doctors collaborate closely with universities, research institutions, and well-known pharmaceutical businesses, resulting in the ideal blend of academic knowledge and practical skill.

Short waiting times

Switzerland has a good national network of high-quality hospitals, allowing it to deliver timely medical care in emergencies and elective operations.

Innovative medical technology

Swiss hospitals have advanced cutting-edge technical infrastructure. As a result, medical professionals use top-of-the-line devices and software to create specific treatment regimens for each patient.

Switzerland has a tradition of welcoming international patients

Pure mountain air, therapeutic thermal springs, and excellent medicine in Swiss hospitals are the key reasons for the rising number of international tourists.

Quality, security, and discretion

Visitors to Switzerland feel secure in their hands due to the country’s stable political environment and the natural reserve of its population.

Cultural tolerance

Sensitivity to various cultures and religions is integral to everyday life in Switzerland. Therefore, Swiss hospitals make considerable efforts to accommodate the various needs of patients from different nations.

Relaxation for traveling companions too

Recovery requires more than simply the best medical care; you also require the support of your loved ones. Switzerland has great accommodations and a peaceful schedule of vacation activities for traveling companions.

Medical expertise and maximum comfort

In addition to highly skilled experts, Swiss hospitals provide a complete all-around service to meet the most exacting standards.

Short distances

Switzerland’s compact size means that journeys to hospitals and tourist attractions are short and uncomplicated. 

Cost of Living in Switzerland

While the average Swiss household spending is significantly greater than that of surrounding European nations, the expense of living in Switzerland is supported by superior incomes and good living standards, which many immigrants working in Switzerland find especially appealing. 

Zurich was the world’s fourth-most expensive city in 2021 and the most expensive place to live in Europe. Zurich has the highest expenses for affordable restaurant meals, fitness clubs, foreign beer, and taxis, with the overall cost of living estimated to be:

  • 60% more costly than Paris.
  • 56% more costly than London.
  • 28% more costly than in New York.

Conclusion

This article intended to offer a broad overview of many subjects relevant to the ways to move to Switzerland as a doctor. Switzerland has heavy restrictions and standards for receiving medical education, so anyone interested in attending medical school in that nation should conduct an extensive study before embarking on their trip.

FAQs

Can foreign doctors work in Switzerland?

Yes. Foreign qualifications must be recognized by law in Switzerland for various professions.

Is Switzerland a good place to be a doctor?

Switzerland is one of the greatest countries for physicians, having one of Europe’s most competitive medical programs that admitted over 60,000 students for its MD degree last year.

How much does a Doctor make in Switzerland? 

Physicians in Switzerland earn, on average, CHF 135’005 or CHF 69.23 an hour.

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