Medical work and continuing education in Switzerland

Country facts and demographic data

Area: 41,290 km², Population: 7.6 million (as of 2007)
15.80 % are older than 65, 68.20 % are between 15 and 64 years old, 16.10 % are younger than 14. The capital is Bern; the official languages are German, French, Italian and Romansh.

Healthcare system

Every person with domicile in Switzerland has to be insured for the costs occurring from medical treatment in case of illness or accidents (if not covered by accident insurance). The health insurance providers are private companies, as there is no national health insurance. Public hospitals are financed by the payment for treatments (patients, insurances) and additional funding from the cantons and communities. Private hospitals are financed in most cases only from treatment fees, which is why the fees are much higher than in the public hospitals.

Medical education and further training

The study of medicine takes six years; on completion of their studies in medicine, the students are awarded the Federal Medical Diploma. They are then able to work as employees in hospitals or private practices. Questions about the study of medicine can be directed to the deanship of the medical faculties and the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS


After receiving the Federal Medical Diploma or a medical diploma approved by the Commission for Medical Occupations (Medizinalberufekommission, MEBEKO), graduates enter the specialist training phase. Specialist training takes three years for the most basic title of “general practitioner”. The training occurs at approved educational facilities and is completed by taking the medical specialist exam.

Specialist training

Once the specialist training is completed, doctors have the possibility of further specialisation in a chosen field. This further training is very challenging and can take at least five to six years. Structure, duration, content and degree examinations are regulated by the different specialist training programs. Whatever the field, training is only possible at the approved training institutions. The Swiss Institute for Continuing Medical Education (SIWF) recommends checking the list of approved training institutions regularly. Further information at:


The cantons are responsible for licensing and professional monitoring. More information can be found here.

Important addresses

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Swiss Tropical and Public Health InstituteHelix - Forschung & Beratung WienEuropean Health Forum GasteinnewTreeCenter of ExcellenceOÖ Gebietskrankenkasse, Referat für Wissenschaftskooperation Ärzte der WeltCharité International Academy