Last Updated on June 10, 2022
Medical residency training in Switzerland has emerged as a highly popular option for students who wish to pursue a career in medicine. To enter the stream, you will need to be an undergraduate student and have completed at least one medical degree in any of the related streams of medicine. Swiss medical education is highly scrutinized by the EU regulatory bodies, which only allow a select group of European countries to offer this stream.
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How to Apply for Medical Residency in Switzerland
A medical residency is begun after an applicant has finished a medical school. Residents must spend three to eight years working at a hospital or other care institution studying by on-the-job experience. This residencies can involve work in a number of specializations.
It’s no secret that the UK no longer has the greenest pastures for doctors or those considering a career in medicine. Applications to UK medical schools keep falling year on year and more doctors drop out of medicine entirely or leave the UK during or after foundation training.
If you’re one such dispairing junior doctor then you’re not alone:
During my F2 (PGY2) year I decided to quit and apply to continue my training in German-speaking Europe. A couple of months (and a few much needed holidays) later I got a great training job in a Swiss university teaching hospital. Since then I’ve received endless questions from friends and colleages on how to do the same. Whether you’ve made a decision to go abroad or are just curious about what it’s like, I break it down for you here:
Swiss Medical System & Training pathway: Cross-recognition in the UK
After medical school, graduates can apply directly to the specialty of choice for training, which lasts on average 6 years, after which one becomes “Facharzt” or a Specialist. For most specialties the training is cross-recognized between UK and Switzerland, (you can check with the individual Royal Colleges in the UK if you want to be 100% certain it also applies to your specialty) and after attaining Facharzt in Switzerland one would be elgible for CCT in the UK and could theoretically then work directly as a consultant:
If your chosen specialty is a surgical or medical one, it is often desireable to have a year’s experience in General Surgery or General Medicine respectively, before applying to the specialty of choice. This is particularly true for competitive and specific specialties. For instance if you aspire to become an ENT / Plastic/ or Neuro surgeon, your training pathway may look so:
Medical School -> Assistenzarzt in General Surgery (1 year) -> Assistenzarzt in ENT / Plastics / Neurosurgery (5 years) -> Facharzt in ENT / Plastics / Neurosurgery
It’s of course possible to skip the year of general surgery and go straight into your surgical specialty. Vis-a-vis skip general medicine and go straight into medical specialty. But for competitive specialties this is difficult and rare, and you’ll have to impress the Chief doctor with your CV.
Most medical graduates straight out of medical school in europe DO NOT have any publications. By this I include even international poster presentations and small abstract publications. So coming from the UK, where most medical students already have a handful of publications/posters/etc by the time they graduate – it looks pretty impressive in comparison.
Medical Residency In Switzerland For Non EU
Duration of Specialty Training in Swizterland:
Specialty training lasts between 5-6 years for a single specialisation, of which 2 years have to be spent a category A hospital:
Hospitals are categorised into A, B, or C depending on size/caseload and academia. You can do most or all of your training at a single large teaching hospital (category A), but the maximum time that can be spent at a category B and C hospitals is 3 and 1 years respectively. This is to ensure that all trainees spend at least a portion of their training in a large teaching hospital as well as a smaller hospital. You can find a list of which hospital is which category in the SIWF-register I link to below. It also has information on how each department within a hospital is categorised.
Having said this, Switzerland is so small that you will have at least one category A, B, and C hospital within 30 min of each other, so you can very easily and realistically NEVER MOVE HOUSE THROUGHOUT YOUR ENTIRE TRAINING even if you switch hospitals. I think that’s a pretty big deal that needs to be emphasised.
Switzerland Medical Residency
1. Graduate candidates of Switzerland
At the end of master in medicine, medical student should pass the Federal medical examination in human medicine ( l’examen fédéral en médécine humaine) to get the federal doctor degree which is organized by Federal office of Public Health, this exam is essential to start Switzerland medical residency training.
2. Graduate candidates from other EU/EFTA countries
To do the postgraduate training, EU and EFTA graduate medical student should apply for recognition of diploma by the Federal Office of Public Health
There is 2 kind of recognition of diploma :
- Direct recognition : for the diploma which was awarded in a State/country which has signed corresponding agreement with Switzerland.
- Indirect recognition : diplomas awarded in a third country and recognized by a State which has signed the corresponding agreement with Switzerland.
3. Graduate candidate from outside EU / EFTA countries
Switzerland doesn’t recognize diploma of these candidates, however there is possibility to apply and get federal diploma which will allow them do the Switzerland medical residency training. The candidates should submit an application form along with required documents to sit for the Federal medical examination in human medicine ( l’examen fédéral en médécine humaine)
switzerland medical license exam
1. For Swiss medical graduates
The postgraduate training is essential to practice medicine in Switzerland which lead to postgraduate qualification in specialized medicine.
2. For EU/EFTA medical graduates
Non Swiss medical graduates from EU/EFTA countries in order to practice medicine in Switzerland require the recognition of their medical education diploma/degree with the 2 kind of recognition process (direct and indirect discussed above).
3. For medical graduates from outside EU/EFTA countries
Foreign medical graduate can get registration but they will work as assistant physician if they meet all requirement. (see below documentation section)
Foreign doctors should have specialist qualification (with appropriate postgraduate training) to work in Switzerland independently only after getting Federal postgraduate title by The Commission on Medical Professions (MEBEKO) which sets the conditions for obtaining federal corresponding title after contacting the concerned organizations responsible for postgraduate training sector.
After getting the required qualification, doctors register MedReg to practice medical profession in Switzerland (can find here registration to medical profession).
medical residency in sweden Eligibility
1. For medical student wishing to enroll in basic medical education program
Swiss national candidates must hold one of the following diplomas / titles:
- Maturity gymnasial certificate
- Swiss maturity certificate
- Degree from a HES
- Cantonal maturity certificate recognized throughout Switzerland
- Swiss professional maturity certificate completed by a certificate of additional tests
- Equivalent degree.
Candidates of foreign nationality
- Citizens and nationals of Liechtenstein
- Established foreigners in Switzerland or Liechtenstein
- Foreigners domiciled in Switzerland
- Whose parents are established in Switzerland
- Whose parents, domiciled in Switzerland, are nationals of an EU Member State (EU), provided they are under 21 or are dependents
- Who are married to a citizen or a Swiss national or whose spouse is either drawn-e in Switzerland for at least five years, be in possession of a Swiss work permit for at least five years
- In possession of a Swiss work permit for at least five years or whose parents are in possession of a Swiss work permit for at least five years
- Who have a Swiss maturity certificate or a cantonal certificate recognized maturity throughout Switzerland or a Swiss certificate of maturity with the certificate of additional tests
- Who have obtained a Bachelor of a Swiss University, after completing the entire university.
- Foreigners whose parents are diplomat in Switzerland
- Refugee recognized by Switzerland
- Foreigners licensed G for at least five years without interruption, or whose parents are licensed G for at least five years without interruption
Eligibility according German and Fribourg medical school
- Passing aptitude test (test d’aptitude pour les études en médécine).
2. Eligibility to practice medicine in Switzerland
- Hold a title accepted in Switzerland
- Having the exercise of civil rights
- Not convicted of crime
- Be physically and mentally fit
- Have liability insurance
3. Eligibility for Switzerland medical residency training
- Should have federal diploma or diploma recognized by Federal Office of Public Health.
If he/she doesn’t possess it he/she should sit for the Federal medical examination in human medicine ( l’examen fédéral en médécine humaine)
residency in switzerland medicine Procedure
1. Procedure to study medicine (according to faculty of medicine of Genève)
Detailed procedure for admission into University of Geneva can be found here and here
2. Procedure for entry into Switzerland medical residency training
Foreign medical graduates can enter into residency training but they are required to for the Federal medical examination in human medicine ( l’examen fédéral en médécine humaine) (see below examination and documentation section)
Local medical graduates after getting the federal diploma, The Federal Council, after consulting the Commission of the medical professions, sets the duration of postgraduate training for different titles corresponding postgraduate academic medical professions. Rather than fixing the duration, it can determine the extent of the training required including setting the number of required postgraduate education credits.
3. Procedure for licence
Foreign medical graduates who haven’t completed their residency training they can get registration in Switzerland but can work only as assistant doctors at first. later on with experience if they pass exam they can work as general practitioners. (see below documentation section)
To get license to practice medicine in Switzerland doctors should have already completed residency training abroad and should hold title of specialist. After getting registered doctor should MedReg.
License of academic medical profession is issued by the cantons, the registry assists them by giving them the means to easily access data from such professions.
For more information they can contact [email protected]
1. For Switzerland medical residency training for medical graduates outside EU/EFTA countries
- Fill the application form for obtaining federal diploma
- Curriculum vitae
- Proof of nationality (passport copy)
- Copy of diploma and official translation in French, German, Italian or English
- List of exams passed during studies (transcript) and official translation
- If available, evidence of professional experience abroad and official translation in French, German, Italian or English
- If available, proof of professional experience in Switzerland. Necessary information:
- beginning and end of the activity; 2) function; 3) Occupancy rate
2. For License/registration of doctors outside EU/EFTA Countries
- Fill the application form for authorization to practice
- Original or certified copy of the medical degree (French translation if in a foreign language)
- Original a recent criminal record in the country of origin (if less than 6 months in Switzerland) and Swiss (not older than 6 months)
- Medical certificate attesting to the physical and mental fitness to practice
- Recent curriculum vitae
- Detailed plan of training
- Certificate of good knowledge of French (B2 level required)
3. For direct and indirect recognition of diploma of medical graduation from EU/EFTA countries
- Application form for direct recognition of diploma and Application form for indirect recognition of diploma
- Certified copy of passport or identity card
- Curriculum vitae
- Certified copy of (the) degree(s) in the original language
- Original or certified copy of the official translation of (the) degree(s), if the original was not issued in French, German, Italian or English
- Certified copy of any certificates accompanying the diploma in the original language
- Original or certified copy of the official translation of (the) certificate (s) complementary, if the original was not issued in French, German, Italian or English
- Proof of mastering one of the official languages of Switzerland (French, German, Italian)
- Maturity in the corresponding language, language certificates (at least B2 according to the CEFR), professional activities in the one of the linguistic regions
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4. For recognition of postgraduate diploma from EU/EFTA countries (for licence and registration)
- Application form for direct recognition of postgraduate title and Application form indirect recognition of postgraduate diploma
- Certified copy of passport or identity card
- Curriculum vitae
- Certified copy of postgraduate medical degree
- Original or certified copy of the translation of the postgraduate degree, if the original was not issued in French, German, Italian or English
- Certified copy of the certificate of compliance with the European Directive issued by the competent authorities
- Original or certified copy of the official translation of complementary certificates if the original was not issued in French, German, Italian or English
Federal medical examination is organized by Federal Office of Public Health and is composed of:
- Theoretical part including all spectrum of knowledge; multiple choice questions in two parts
- Clinical skills test: This is an OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) exam.