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Switzerland is a small European country with 8.6 million people and a severe primary care physician shortage. As a result, medical professionals from other countries, such as Germany, Italy, and France, can set up shop in Switzerland. For more information on how to immigrate to Switzerland as a doctor and how much money you can expect to make, read this article.

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Move to Switzerland as a Doctor

  1. Education. Get a medical degree that ranks well against degrees in Switzerland.
  2. Language. Depending on your area of work, you should learn the local language (German, French, Italian, or Romansh).
  3. Qualification Recognition. Learn how to get Swiss authorities to recognize your international credentials. We explained them in the sections below.
  4. Residency. Gain Swiss residency experience.
  5. License. Get yourself a medical license from the canton of your choice.
  6. Work Permit. Those not from Switzerland, the EU, or EFTA must apply for a work visa.
  7. Job Search. Look for available doctor jobs, which are frequently posted on hospital websites.
  8. Interview and Offer. Participate in employment interviews and analyze potential offers.
  9. Relocation. Get your housing and health insurance in order before you relocate.
  10. Continuing Education. Keep current with medical knowledge and practice lawfully by continuing your education.

Immigrate 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
  • You are a citizen of an EU/EFTA state; or
  • You are married to an EU/EFTA citizen.

Requirements for Direct Recognition of the Diploma

The following conditions must be met in order for an EU/EFTA diploma to be accepted in Switzerland:

  • Have a Swiss, EU, or EFTA citizen as a partner or be a Swiss citizen.
  • Diplomas and additional credentials must comply with EU Directive 2005/36/EG or the EFTA Convention, with authority granted by those directives or conventions.

Required documents:

  • A dated and signed application form.
  • Certified copies of your passport or ID, and those of your spouse (if applicable) along with a marriage certificate.
  • A signed resume.
  • Certified copies or official translations of your diploma(s) if not in German, French, Italian, or English.

Note: In specific countries (See the table below), you must also provide a certified copy of the certificate of conformity from the relevant authority, along with translations if the language of the issuance is not German, French, Italian, or English.

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

Immigrate 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 fluency in the official Swiss language.

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

A doctor must obtain a federal diploma if the requirements of direct or indirect diploma recognition are unmet. The Medical Professions Commission (MEBEKO) decides on the requirements.

Requirements for the Registration of Non-Recognizable Diplomas

A non-recognized foreign diploma can be registered with the Medical Professions Register (MedReg) if it meets the following requirements:

  • According to MedBG, foreign diplomas allow practice under professional supervision.
  • These standards are met by overseas training:
    • You must complete at least 5,500 hours of theory and practice in six years of full-time study.
    • Studying full-time for five years or completing 5,000 hours of practical and theoretical training is required.
    • At least 5,500 hours of instruction and practice over six years of full-time study.
    • Study alternating theoretical and practical instruction for a minimum of five years.
    • Students must complete five years of alternating theoretical and practical instruction in a recognized university or college.

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.

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 immigration process for doctors, Switzerland’s education system is world-renowned due to rigorous admissions and low acceptance rates. Swiss first-year residency salaries are higher than German ones, making them appealing to medical professionals. Switzerland’s structured system helps doctors manage their workload and finances, promoting work-life balance.

Infographic How to Immigrate and Move to Switzerland as a Doctor

How to Get a Federal Diploma in Medical Professions?

No matter your nationality, you can still earn the Federal Diploma if your medical degree is not recognized in Switzerland.

Here’s how:

  1. Individual Qualifications. The qualifications for each position are determined on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Application Submission. Apply in person at the Federal Office of Public Health, MEBEKO, Department of Education, 3003 Bern, along with a fee.

Note:

  • Under federal law, cantons determine practice authorization.
  • German and French are the official languages for federal exams for diplomas from non-recognized foreign countries.
  • The MEBEKO application form, resume, identification proof, diploma with an official translation, test names with an official translation, proof of overseas professional experience (with translation, if available), and proof of Swiss professional experience (if available) should all be included in your application.
  • There are fees associated with application processing, enrollment, the exam, and diploma issuance. (MEBEKO determines these fees).

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 once 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 during the procedure.

Language Proficiency to Move to Switzerland as a Doctor

Fluency in the relevant language is essential for pursuing a medical career in Switzerland. A fee of CHF 50.00 – 100.00 per language is additionally charged for documentation of German, French, and Italian proficiency. Here are the documents you’ll need:

  • The degree must conform to the CEFR level B2, which must have been obtained within the past six years.
  • The equivalent of a medical degree from an accredited university in the corresponding language.
  • Having worked in the concerned university medical profession for at least three years in the relevant language.

How to Get a Swiss Work Visa to Immigrate to Switzerland as a Doctor?

To immigrate to Switzerland as a doctor, follow these steps:

  1. Acquire a valid medical degree and certifications in your field.
  2. Find steady work as a doctor in Switzerland.
  3. Show that you can communicate effectively in one of Switzerland’s recognized languages.
  4. Visit your country’s Swiss Embassy or Consulate to apply for a residence permit.
  5. Apply for a D-visa at the Swiss embassy if your intended stay is over 90 days.
  6. In most cases, your company will obtain your work permit from the Cantonal Medical Office on your behalf.
  7. If everything checks out, you can start your medical career in Switzerland.

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

Jobs in Switzerland are listed on various websites. Apply for an “Assistenzarzt” position to become a Swiss doctor. Completing a significant test and speaking B2 German are required. Apply for an Assistenzarzt position at the BAG.

Switzerland needs private practitioners, especially in rural areas. Though simple, opening a practice in Switzerland requires a medical license. Fluency in the local language is crucial, especially in rural areas with private practices.

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?”

A doctor’s salary in Switzerland ranges from 107,000 CHF to 492,000 CHF annually, making it one of the most popular and well-paying professions. Approximately 5% of medical students graduate yearly, increasing the job market.

How to Become a Doctor in Switzerland?

Becoming a doctor in Switzerland is one of the most stringent in the world. To become a doctor in Switzerland:

  1. Have the Prerequisite for Education. Get your high school diploma and major in science.
  2. Get University Admission. Apply to a medical school in Switzerland. In most cases, you’ll need to score well on an entrance exam or fulfill other academic prerequisites.
  3. Get a Bachelor’s Degree. It takes about three years to earn a Bachelor of Science in Medicine.
  4. Get a Master’s Degree. The next step is a three-year Master’s program in medicine.
  5. Undergo Clinical Training and Residency. Participate in a residency training program, the length of which varies with the selected area of medicine.
  6. Have Language Proficiency. Learn the language of your selected canton and become fluent.
  7. Take the National Licensing Exam. Take the national licensing exam for physicians after you finish medical school and residency.
  8. Get a Medical License. To begin practicing medicine, you must first obtain a license from the canton.
  9. Continue Your Education. Attend continuing education activities such as seminars, workshops, and conventions.
  10. Consider Optional Specialization. Focus your medical training on a certain area if you so choose.
  11. Gian Professional Associations. Join Swiss medical organizations that are relevant to your field of expertise.
  12. Practice Medicine. Practice medicine in Switzerland and gain experience in a healthcare setting like a hospital, clinic, or private practice.

Switzerland Medical License Exam

Overview of the Medical Licensing Exam in Switzerland:

  • Exam Content. The comprehensive exam covers several medical disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and clinical medicine.
  • Exam Format. This course includes a written component, a practice component, a clinical scenario, and a physical examination.
  • Exam Frequency. Depending on your medical school and canton, this course is offered once or twice a year.
  • Exam Registration. The Swiss Institute of Medical Education (ISFM) or the relevant cantonal medical authority must be contacted to register candidates.
  • Language Requirement. To apply for this job, you must speak the official language of your canton (German, French, Italian, or Romansh).
  • Exam Preparation. It is typically necessary to study for several months, using study guides and textbooks and practice test questions, to prepare effectively for the exam.
  • Pass Rates. Due to the exam’s rigor, pass rates fluctuate yearly, requiring extensive medical study.
  • Licensing After Success. The canton where you intend to practice medicine may have specific requirements for medical licenses after passing the exam.
  • Additional Requirements. Some cantons may require postgraduate training or supervised practice hours.
  • Retake the exam if you don’t pass on your first attempt.

Immigrate to Switzerland as a Doctor: Let’s Recap

This article intended to offer a broad overview of many subjects relevant to how 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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6 Comments

  1. Nabeel Ahmad says:

    Hi I’m doctor by profession.i like to work in Switzerland

    • Oliver says:

      All you need to know is provided in the article. If you have questions, write them down in the comment section.

  2. Lun says:

    Is a UK medical degree recognised or do I need to do more exams to be licensed to practice? Also is French or German an essential requirement? And where are jobs advertised?

    • Oliver says:

      You should send your degree and documents for recognition if you study in a foreign country’s and the Swiss officials decide about it.
      You need Swiss language fluency. You can find jobs on the websites that advertise job positions in Switzerland.

  3. Nathan says:

    My wife and I are both MDs in the US. Medical school and training in the Us. She is an EU citizen. Would that make the process easier for both of us to start practicing medicine in Switzerland? Thank you for the informative

    • Max says:

      A physician who is married to an EU citizen may find it easier to relocate to Switzerland. Your wife’s EU citizenship may make it easier for her to enter Switzerland, but the country has strict requirements for its doctors. Your medical degrees must be recognized in Switzerland, you must obtain work permits, you must show proof of proficiency in German, French, Italian, or Romansh, and you must have job offers from Swiss healthcare institutions. You’ll also need the proper documentation and insurance coverage. To make sure you can start practicing medicine in Switzerland without any hiccups, it’s a good idea to get in touch with Swiss immigration authorities and medical licensing bodies, and maybe even consult a lawyer.