Doctors: Specialty training in Switzerland and how to apply for it

Swiss Medical Specialty Training System: How to Apply and Life as a Doctor in Switzerland.

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.

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.

Flexibility of Speciality Training in Switzerland:


In Swizterland it’s not uncommon to be dual-qualified in two related specialities and receive two “Facharzt” or specialist titles.  Usually the duration for dual-specialisation is full training time + 3 years. For instance if one does 5 years of internal medicine and qualifies as Facharzt in Internal Medicine, a further title of Facharzt in Gastroenterology can be obtained by only 3 more years in Gastroenterology specialty training.

For certain specialties with more niche-procedures, the list of surgical competencies can be difficult to complete (most commonly due to rarity), sometimes requiring prolongation of training time until you complete all the required competencies. I’ve heard that for very very rare procedures that you have to complete in Neurosurgery some surgeons wait a few years (at smaller hospitals) for them to come around.


Training can be interrupted and resumed at any point, unlike in the UK. If you start at a hospital and don’t like the town or the hospital after a few months – you can quit, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (But it’s advised to apply for another position first if you don’t want a break in between, obviously.)

If you want a sabbatical or even just a few months of unpaid leave, this is certainly possible too, you just need to ask your own department chief for their approval. For instance a colleague in my ENT department now is taking 4 months unpaid leave in the summer for a very long honeymoon. Chief said okay no probs.

The reason this is possible is because in Swizterland training doesn’t happen in fixed year blocks. The year doesn’t start and end at the same time for all trainees in the country like in the UK. You can start and stop anytime anywhere, and all the time worked just accumulates in your own personal portfolio (which is free by the way) until you’ve done the required time and competencies.

You have complete control over your own training in Swizterland, Austria, and Germany. This is in my opinion the most attractive feature of specialty training in German-speaking Europe. Nobody asks questions about taking up to 6 months off between posts – that’s considered a perfectly reasonable break time. Interruption in training of more than 6 months you’d probably need to explain in interview, but that’s about it.

Entry after Foundation training (F1 & F2) or Core Training in the UK:

You can likely enter straight into the specialty of your choice as “Assistenzarzt” straight out of foundation training in the UK. You’ll have likely done enough of other specialties in your F1 and F2 rotations, and certainly after core training to satisfy departmental Chiefs that you have enough general experience.

Once you’ve entered the system here it’s advisable to complete all of your specialty training in Europe (non-UK) as the pathways within non-UK Europe are similar and largely interchangeable.

UPDATE: I’ve received a lot of emails and questions regarding entering into Swiss specialty training straight out of medical school like Swiss graduates. Just to clarify, this is not possible if you’re a UK medical school graduate: FY1 is considered an extension of the UK medical school system as it’s a form of internship, equivalent to internships incorporated into medical school in Switzerland and other countries. You must complete FY1 to be at an equivalent standing to Swiss medical school graduates. Without FY1 you’re not eligible for full registration with the GMC or MEBEKO, or any other european regulator.

Entry at SpR / registrar levels:

The FMH publishes details on each specialty and on how to get training from abroad recognized. You’ll be credited to your level and complete specialty training in the appropriately reduced time.

How each specialty is credited is different, but likely involves matching the competencies you’ve completed in the UK to the competencies required for completeion of specialty training in Switzerland and then taking the equivalent time and competencies off what is remaining.

Medical Hierarchy and Equivalent nomenclature:

Assistenzarzt/in = aka. Resident, a doctor in Training for specialty
Facharzt = Specialist
Oberarzt = Consultant like in the UK
Chefarzt = Departmental Chief doctor. He or she is 100% in charge of everything in the department. They do the hiring and firing, they set the policies, etc. Their word is final in everything.

Working as a doctor in Switzerland: The every day life of an Assistenzarzt

Hours worked per week in Switzerland can be roughly the same as in the UK, and similarly will vary by specialty and hospital. The website SIWF-Register surveys all the trainees in each hospital annually and produces excellent charts rating each Hospital department on various criteria ranging from learning experience and research opportunities to hospital Culture. It’s an excellent tool to help decide which hospitals to apply to.


There is slight variation between individual Hospitals and different parts of the country, but each hospital has fixed salary bands for all doctors of the same level, and these are often published on their website.

Example monthly salary of doctor in 1st year of specialty training:

Basic Salary                      CHF 6,981.00
Per sat/sun on-call           CHF 47.501
Per Nightshift (midweek)  CHF 47.50
Total                                   CHF 7,076.10

According to the swiss medical regulator, the average salary of trainees (across all years of training) is CHF 8.416 per month, or CHF 100,000 annually. Towards the end of your specialty training you can expect to earn approx. CHF 10,000 per month.

On-calls and overtime are paid separately on top, and each hospital will have a different policy on how overtime is compensated. Apparently there can be quite a variation:

Some pay all overtime fairly as recorded and some don’t pay but give time in lieu. There are stories of some departments erasing overtime records to avoid giving extra payments. Presumably, however, these hospitals will be rated poorly in their SIWF surveys. At my current hospital we are given a chart every month with our scheduled working hours where we can indicate day by day any extra hours we worked or lunch breaks we missed. These are then compensated.


Application Process

Unlike in the UK where all applications are standardised and condensed into a single number by which you are ranked against your peers nationally, in the rest of Europe applications are much more old-fashioned:

Each doctor is responsible for their own application “portfolio” entirely and makes direct applications to heads of departments in their target specialty and hospital.

Your application should include:

  • Cover/Motivation letter – this is the most important part of your application. Ideally written as a one-page formal letter explaining your motivations to work at that hospital/in that specialty and why they should hire you.
  • CV/Resume (more on Medical CVs for Europe here)
  • Copy of your medical degree/other degrees (English original is fine)

Send that to the “Chefarzt” or departmental lead of your desired workplace, and with any luck that will land you an interview.

My interview was short and conversational:

They know your background and academic achievements from your application. The interview will largely be to gague you as a person, and whether they want you on the team. Remember, in Europe doctors can stay at one hospital/team for several years.

Once you’ve secured a job, or simultaneously as you apply, you’ll want to get on the Swiss Medical Register, known as “Nostrifikation”:

The swiss medical regulator is known as the MEBEKO, and is where you apply to enter the register. The swiss medical association is called the FMH.

UPDATE: Since 01.01.2018 it’s compulsory for all doctors working in Switzerland to have full MEBEKO registration. Previously there may have been some flexibility for EU-trained doctors with equivalent registrations, but no longer.

General Requirements for medical registration:

  • Medical Diploma attained within the EU/ECC
  • Citizenship of an EU/ECC nation
  • Proof of German ability to B2 level through either Matura (high shool diploma) from a german-speaking institution or work-experience in a german-speaking country. Those who attained their Medical Diploma in a Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, or Italy are exempt.

That’s it! Good luck!

Feel free to post questions below for anything I haven’t covered and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Processed with VSCO with q10 preset
Basel, Switzerland



104 thoughts on “Doctors: Specialty training in Switzerland and how to apply for it

  1. Hi! Thank you so much for the article it was very helpful!
    With Brexit looming I am considering, once I graduate from medical school next year and complete F1, to moving to either the Italian speaking side (as I am Italian) or the french speaking side of Switzerland!I know looking into it now is early days as its two years away but i was just wondering a few things.

    The first one is if you found that interrupting F2 and applying as opposed to waiting for F2 to finish or applying whilst doing F2 was more beneficial because of the time you could dedicate to the application? As in would you suggest I do the same or could the applications be carried out while working?

    And secondly, now that you have been practicing there for a while and seen the standards of other doctors training with you, I was wondering what advice you would give a medical student entering their final year on what they can do now and then during F1 to strengthen their application/did you find that the doctors there were just as prepared as you or as the system differs were you ahead/behind?

    Thank you so much!


    1. Hi Lucia!

      To answer your questions in order:
      1) Nobody here cared whether I finished or interrupted F2. They really didn’t care about “F2” but instead cared about the months I spent in various specialties. So for instance in my F1 and first rotation of F2 I totalled the following rotations:
      8 Months in surgical specialties (Vascular and Orthopaedics)
      4 Months in general medicine
      4 Months in ENT (the specialty I was applying to in Switzerland)

      They wanted to know those things, not whether I got signed off for F1 or F2.

      2) I didn’t choose to cut F2 short because I wanted to dedicate extra time to the application – I just didnt want to do the rotations I had left in F2. I wanted to get on with training in ENT. And I wanted some time off before I started, haha. (I travelled for 4 months between finishing in the UK and starting in Switzerland)

      3) The standards of the other doctors working here at my level are exceptionally high, clinically. Here doctors don’t do things like take blood, put in canullas, or spend all their time doing admin and paper work. Here the ratio of medical secretaries to nurses to doctors is pretty much a 1:1:1 so everyone does exactly what they’re trained for. Secretaries are right there in the office and in the clinic doing all the secretarial things and admin, nurses take all the bloods, bring you all the equipment you need, clear things away after you etc, so doctors really only focus on the clinical. If you already know what specialty you want to do, I’d say study a bit more around that specialty so you know it well. People here aren’t expected to be good at any other specialty than the one you’re doing. So I’m not expected to do much or any general medicine or general surgery – I refer all of it and treat only pure ENT. I was well behind on ENT knowledge and maybe a little ahead on general surgery/medicine knowledge when I started here.

      Hope that helps!


      1. Greetings to you.
        My daughter is doing her fourth year of medicine in Charles University, First Faculty,Prague.Keen to persue residency in Switzerland. She is from India.
        Request your guidance please, though there is a long way to go.
        Regards Vasu


  2. Hi, me again. Sorry to bother, Ive been doing more research around it and I was wondering if you could answer a question for me (its quite specific so no worries if not). You said you have to email your CV and portfolio to the departmental lead, but this confuses me a bit. I want to be a medical oncologist and so i have to do two years of internal medicine and then pick oncology later, but do i still email the department lead for medical oncology to get hired as an intern in internal medicine?

    Thank you again for your blog post, its been super helpful!


  3. Hi! Thanks for sharing your experience. I just want to ask if it’s the same process when it comes to french hospital and univerisities. Or they have a special process of application and different requirements?

    Thank you


  4. Hi, thank you for sharing your experience. I would just like to ask if learning the German language and using it in clinical practice was a challenge for you?


    1. Hi Thanos,
      I already spoke high-german to about C1 level, but struggled to adapt to swiss german (it took me about a month) and definitely had a steep learning curve working in medical german and writing reports and clinic letters in german. But learning on the job was definitely the best, as no course or language class could have taught me better than just doing it.


  5. Just a fast one. You said in the requirement part that you must be a EU citizen. Does it mean if you are not a citizen of any EU country, you are not eligible for the residency program ?


    1. Currently that’s what it says in the official guidelines. Though I’ve not had it confirmed in practical terms. It might be worth investigating whether this rule is a hard and fast one or not. Good luck!


  6. Hi,

    Thanks for such an insightful post! I have a question regarding competitive speciality training, e.g. in neurosurgery. Would I be able to apply straight from my final year of medical school, or would it be more beneficial to apply for a year in general surgery first as you suggested? In that case would it be possible to apply for both specialities in the same hospital (to increase my chances of getting a spot), or would that hurt my application?

    Additionally if I applied and got a post at a Swiss hospital immediately after graduating from medical school, would I be very behind in terms of clinical skills and knowledge? Generally what do Swiss students do if they want to go into a competitive field?

    Thanks so much!


    1. Hi Sus, sorry for the late reply!
      You can only apply to specialty training after completing FY1 if you’ve trained in the UK, so not staight after medical school. In switzerland they can apply right out of medical school because their FY1-equivalent internship is incorporated into medical school.
      For competitive specialties they do like to see some experience in general fields before you apply. But who knows, you can give it a go and you might have the best CV they’ve ever seen. 🙂


  7. Hi!

    I am just about to graduate from medical school in the U.K. and want to move to Switzerland (I am Swiss but was brought up in England). Do I have to do F1 to be able to do this?

    I can’t work it out- the official stuff I’ve found on the internet just says I have to be a medical school graduate which would indicate I just need my degree certificate and not my f1 year too?


    1. Hi Olivia,
      You have to finish FY1 first if you’re a UK medical school graduate to be eligible for specialty training in switerland. The Swiss medical graduates can apply straight after medical school becuase their FY1-equivalent internship is incorporated into their medical school. Good luck!


  8. Thank you so much for all the valuable and accurate information you have shared with us. I personally appreciate it very much and I find it very helpful


  9. Hi, current medical student here. I just wanted to ask about doing residency here as a UK student. Since Britain is leaving the EU, how will the requirements change for someone wanting to specialise there? Thanks =)


    1. Hi, the requirements for applying to residency and for registration with MEBEKO have not changed and as far as I’m aware have shown no signs of changing. Whether or not the training is cross recognised will also not be affected as this is down to the individual royal colleges and not the government.
      Whether EU/UK individuals will need different work visas is another matter that many people are waiting for the home office to decide….


  10. Hello there, say someone completes her med school from Germany but not of EU nationality. Now can she apply for residency in Switzerland ? Or it’s a must to have EU citizenship?


    1. Hi Sumi,
      Right to remain in Switzerland and entry to a residency are two separate things, so you have to be eligible for the first before you can apply to the second. But whether EU citizenship is a must or whether you can have right to remain with another citizenship I’m not sure of, but I remember reading a paragraph on this topic on the MEBEKO website, so I’m sure you can find the answer there. If you do find out, please post again here so other’s can benefit from the info. 🙂 Good luck!


  11. Hi Anjani x,
    I’m a foreign medical student studying in China. I was wondering if it’s possible for me to apply for undergraduate internship program in Switzerland. I’m not an EU citizen. So do you know if there are any opportunities for foreign students to do internship programs there? Because I’m planning to settle somewhere in German speaking European countries in the future for my career. I have yet to polish my French speaking skills.


  12. Thank you so much for your informative article .
    I have few questions , kindly could you please answer them ?

    I’m Saudi and I have Saudi board of Internal medicine in a Royal College recognized hospital and I wish to apply for Hematology specialization in Switzerland .
    I have an sponsership from one of Saudi Universities , So they will pay me the salary and the study fees .
    How I can apply and is there any exceptional roles for such sponsered graduates.



    1. Hi, no there are no special roles for sponsored graduates, but if what you’re saying is you want to undertake an unpaid observership, you can contact department leads in haematology directly and ask them. Since you’re sponsored you won’t need a salary from them, but it likely won’t count as official training either. For it to count as training time you need to be employed by them, as far as I understand. Hope that helps


  13. Hello!

    When you say at the end of the article that one of the conditions of registration are that you need German B2, I presume you mean just for the German-speaking areas? I can’t find anything on the official documentation that says this- only that you need a B2 in at least one of the languages…

    Just wanted to check in case I have missed something!

    Thank you so much for all your help and information- it’s so helpful!


    1. Hi Olivia,
      yes I should have clarified, you need fluency in one of the 3 national languages of switzerland: German, French, or Italian.
      Each language has its own “measure” of proficiency, and for german they use the standard B2 level.
      Obviously if you’re demonstrating proficiency in French, you would be applying to the French speaking areas and vice versa. Most Swiss doctors are fluent in both German and French and some hospitals might suggest you start learning the other language once you start working. (they did to me)
      Good luck!


  14. Hello Anjani,
    thank you for this post it really is very helpful. I’d like to ask you some questions. I recently got my medical diploma for the University of Crete in Greece. I got it with 6.5/10.
    I am fluent in both German and Italian and in a short period of time I will begin a 2-year residency in general surgery in a Greek hospital. I am also currently taking part in some histology papers and taking part voluntarily in robotic surgery procedures, maxillofacial reconstruction procedures and plastic surgery procedures since i have a lot of time in my hands. All of the above i am doing in university hospitals and the professors are keen on giving me a letter of recommendation. I have also sent an application for a postgraduate degree in dermatopharmacology.
    Do you think i might have a good chance to be accepted in a plastic surgery residency program? And if so, will it be required of me to do the 2-year general surgery again in Switzerland? Also, do you have any recommendations on what i could do to strengthen my CV?
    Thank you very much!


  15. Hi, Ajani. Thanks tor your blog. My daughter finished her medical traing from a university in Ukraine but a nigerian. Is there a chance for her in swizar land for residence or intern ship?


    1. Hello,
      Was she able to get the residency in Switzerland? Please can you share some tips and the steps she took? I am also a Nigerian but I am presently studying in Hungary. Thanks in anticipation


  16. Hello!

    Thank you so much for the very useful and informative post!

    I was wondering about searching for vacancies, is there like a NHS Jobs equivalent? Or how would you recommend that we could go about finding jobs?


    1. Hiya, unfortunately there isn’t as far as I’m aware. I searched the hospitals I wanted to individually, and most of them have a jobs board on their website. Or you can email the department directly.


  17. Hi Anjani,

    Thank you for an in-depth insight into the registration process into Switzerland.

    I too completed my F1 year in England, and currently in F2 year.
    I had initially planned to learn German after F2 with hopes to work in Switzerland.
    Sadly due to a recent loss I am having to take some time out from F2. In the interim hope to learn intensive German and locum in England.

    I have a few queries and would greatly appreciate your advice
    1. Language – is there a specific institute for language proficiency certificate (similar to IELTS for Foundation programme application in U.K. for non English speaking doctors)
    2. Registration – would the registration be with MEBEKO or FMH? Or both
    3. Duration of registration- how long would it take to have registration completed in order to start applying to hospitals.
    4. Duration of time out of training of over 6 months.
    I understand this could be frowned upon. Currently I am having to take time out for my own well being. I do intend to locum in the interim whilst learning the language. My understanding is locum wouldn’t account as training could this present as an issue when applying for registration given I would have been out of training for over 6 months.
    5. Lastly, finding a job and duration of waiting –
    I presume it would be competitive to be Place in Category A hospitals.
    I hope to be based in cities where English would also be widely spoken. Would you say it would be more competive.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply and help out.

    I visited Switzerland a year ago and deeply fell in love
    Having done medical studies in Central Europe (in English) I knew after all the travelling around during studies, Central Europe is the ideal location to enjoy being European and indulging in different cultures. In difficult times, it dawns to seek out a place as peaceful as Switzerland.
    With Brexit looming I hope to have the registration sorted in time.


    1. Dear Joy,

      I’m sorry to hear about your loss, and I applaud you for taking time out. In medicine we are always under pressure to carry on against all odds and I think that’s a terrible mentality.
      To answer your questions specifically:
      1. Yes the Goethe-Zertifikat B2 by the Goethe-Institut is the most widely recognised one.
      2. MEBEKO is compulsory. You can worry about FMH later, it’s “optional”.
      3. Leave a lot of time for this, my whole process dragged out over 6 months because they are very slow to respond and very picky with things.
      4. Don’t worry about this too much, especially if you’ll be locuming in the meantime. It’s all about how you frame it at interview. In europe they value experience regardless of whether its “in training”.
      5. Yes, expect jobs to be few and far between, and quite competitive. It’s just the nature of medicine in a place like switzerland. But if you watch and wait and react quickly to ads, you will find it. 🙂

      Best of luck! Please do write back how you get along!


  18. Hi Anjani,
    Thanks so much for your informative blog! I’m an Australian trained doctor and specialising in intensive care medicine. I’m of Swiss background, speak Schwiizerduutsch, but grew up in Australia (since age 3). I am very keen to do my fellowship year (or 2) in Switzerland (Zurich in particular) and am having some trouble working out how to go about this! So I will be a qualified intensivist, not looking for specialist training as such, just to gain some additional experience in a different health care system, and a specialist unit. I would not want to be working at consultant level, more that of a senior registrar / fellow (not sure what they call these roles in Swiss??)

    Do such fellowship years exist in CH, as they do in the UK and Australia for example? And are you aware of any such programs for international fellows? And do you happen to know the process (and possibility) to work as a doctor not trained in an EU country? Eg in the USA one is required to sit the 3 part USMLE and jump through all manner of fiery hoops, whereas for us to do a fellowship in the UK or Ireland its relatively straightforward. Im having an awful lot of trouble working out what the deal is in Switzerland!

    Many thanks for your help!


    1. Hi!
      The “structure” in Switzerland is much more relaxed than what we’re familiar with in the UK or Australia. For what you’re looking for, once you have MEBEKO registration, you can approach hospitals directly and inquire about posts. 🙂 Good luck!


  19. Thank you so much for the info- it’s so helpful!

    I was just wondering if you knew about the system for GP training? As a U.K. F1, do I apply to a hospital (do you have to do some time on hospital placements as a trainee) or a GP practice?


  20. Hi Anjani,

    I hope not to bother you with a repetitive question. I’m in the fifth year of medicine right now. I want to be a Dermatologist, but this is almost impossible here. So, I’m thinking about make the specialist postgraduation training in Switzerland. When do I need to start to care about this process? Can I just learn Italian language to go there? Is it very hard to get a place on the course? How do I know which institutions do I have there to make this kind of medicine specialization?

    Thank you in advance.


  21. Hey Anjani. I’m Dr. Fahim. I am a citizen of Bangladesh and completed my bachelors in medicine from Bangladesh (MBBS). I was wondering if I could apply for medical residency in Ophthalmology in Switzerland. Will the medical license authority will value my MBBS? Is the process for me would be similar to any other country or it will be different?


  22. Hi Anjani,

    Thanks a lot for your post!

    I would like to know if the example monthly salary of a doctor in 1st year of specialty training (7,076.10 CHF) it’s a net or gross salary?


  23. Hello Anjani, thanks a lot for this post — it’s super helpful.
    I’m a 2nd year medical student at a UK med school (graduate entry, so 2 years to go). I have UK citizenship and plan to complete F1. I am interested in OB/GYN and am awaiting a publication, in addition to quite a bit of consistent OB/GYN/women’s health related stuff on my CV. I hope that would help — do you think it would? Is there specific content on the CV that, in your opinion, I should work on between now and 3 years from now (when I’d realistically be trying to enter the Swiss system for residency)?

    Another question — how long did it take you from when you first started applying to jobs to when you actually found a job?

    I think Switzerland sounds like such a good option, and as a French speaker (my fiancee is French) I hope the language aspect won’t be impossible, but I am curious as to exactly HOW competitive it truly is. It sounds too good to be true, really!


    1. It took me 6 months from when I started looking for adverts to being offered a job, but I certainly didn’t “look” as hard as I perhaps could have. If you have graduated from a reputed medical school, have at least 1 publication and supporting things on your CV, you should be in a good position. The only thing I wish I worked on was my “medical german” which in your case will be French.


  24. Hello Dr. Anjani. That was a very informative post there. Thank you for your efforts.
    I have a certain off the topic question, which I was hoping I could get some insight into. I have tried searching it up all over google, but dint quite find an answer. Im from India, citizen here, will most probably (fingers crossed) start residency in the US on a visa, followed by a fellowship. Post this, because I will be American Board certified, is there any way/chance for me to work as a specialist in Switzerland? As of now, I do not know any German, French or Italian, but I am willing to learn if that is a requirement. And what is the process for this kind of immigration as a physician. Thank you so much for your time and patience. Have a great day.


  25. Hi! Is the procedure same for graduates from Russia? I’m graduating this year from Crimean Federal University, Crimea, Russia. I’m citizen of India. I specified the name of my university because Crimea state was part of Ukraine until March 2014. And it was taken over by Russian federation after that. And currently this place has so many sanctions. Thank you in advance!!! 🙂


  26. Hi Anjani,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information!

    Maybe I’m a bit slow, but I don’t understand completely how this might work for those wanting a GP specialization, is then the application also forwarded directly, but to a GP office?

    Also, I’ve heard that one could apply for a residency spot even before graduating. Would this then include the same documents and process with a CV directly to a department, or would it be another process?

    Thanks so much!



  27. Hello!
    I am so thankful for Sharing us a lot about the medical residency in Swiss
    I am final med student in Cuba, would like to do my medical residency in swiss,will it be possible and I am a Bhutanese( kingdom of Bhutan)


  28. HI! Thank you so much for all the useful informations ! I want to be an ENT as well , but I cannot find any available position in the FMH website … Can you suggest me any hospital name ?


  29. Some additions here too, as I had the pleasure to register doctors in Switzerland:
    – EU citizenship is not a must, it makes things easier
    – if you are not an EU citizen, things become more complicated as your documents will be scrutinized very closely;
    – her salary figures are before tax, to know your taxes you have to check with the place you work, as they vary by Canton
    – Switzerland is competitive to a degree, but usually, you will find a place
    – it is recommended to start in a C or B clinic to get used to the system. A-clinics can be overwhelming and are usually not considered to be an optimal starting point
    – Have a good look where you want to work. There are plenty of amazing places, but I recommend a “voluntary” day to follow around and get a feel for it.


  30. Hi Anjany,

    Thanks for all the information.

    When you apply for a job in a hospital in Switzerland, Do I have to send a copy of the transcript and diploma from my medical school to the Chefarzt?

    Thanks a lot!!


  31. Thanks for a detailed information regarding working in Switzerland. Kindly mention what are the chances of jobs for Non-EU doctors ( I belong to Pakistan ) , having Masters in Internal Medicine (UK) and German B2 (GER) , how to proceed it,kindly explain.


  32. Can foreign medical graduate from non EU apply for postgraduation programme and if it is possible what is the criteria and procedure ?


  33. Hi Anjani,

    Thanks so much for your article. It’s been super helpful.

    I’m an F2 doctor in the UK at the moment and considering moving to Switzerland for family reasons.

    Switzerland seems like a great place to work but I’m apprehensive about the language requirement (B2 German). I only speak English and have done German upto GCSE (so nothing significant and something I’ve probably forgotten by now!). I was wondering if you could kindly address the following:

    1. If I plan to learn german to a B2 level- would it be realistic and feasible for me to work there? Because I’m not a native speaker I fear my language skills (or lack thereof) may get in the way on a day to day basis (especially for things like discharge summaries, letters etc).

    2. Living in the UK now, is there a recognised german course (maybe online) that I could do that would be meet the requirements? Or how do I know which language courses would be recognised?

    3. Do you register on MEBEKO before applying for jobs or can you do that after you’ve found a job?

    Thanks so much in advance!


    1. Hi Payal,
      To address your questions in order:
      1. I’m not going to lie, medical german is tough to learn from scratch, but it can definitely be done. A further hurdle is that studying german on the “standard” german courses won’t perfectly prepare you for Swiss german. So realistically, you would need to learn german to a B2 level (not easy from scratch), and then I’d recommend spending some time in Switzerland or somehow familiarising yourself with swiss german.
      2. There is no one course that you can study that guarantees you to B2 ability, the only thing you can show for it is the actual B2 test which you can take no matter how you prepare. There are many german courses out there, but you’d have to sit the exam either way regardless which you took.
      3. Back when I applied you go be offered a job first then do MEBEKO. Nowadays I hear the process takes longer and some hospitals require you to have it before they offer you the job.
      Hope that helps!


      1. Hi Anjani, thank you so much for your response. I just wanted to update you about my progress! So I’ve decided to commit to learning german and will see where that leads me.

        I just wanted to clarify the following:

        1. What is the difference between a Facharzt and Oberarzt? If you’re a specialist, wouldn’t that basically mean you’re a consultant?
        2. Secondly, was your interview in German? If it includes clinical/medical lingo, my fear would be that I would need to switch to English (initially at least), would that be looked at negatively?
        3. Do you have to do any exams whilst you’re in or at the end of specialist training e.g. like MRCP in the UK (if so, would they be in German!)
        4. Lastly, above you mention that lets say you want to do gastroenterology, it would be dual specialisation [Int medicine (5 yrs)–> Gastro (3 yrs)]. presumably you can’t just do specialisation in gastro (5-6 yrs) in the first instance without doing the internal medicine part beforehand? I ask because the ENT training pathway you’ve described, it seems to be direct entry into ENT (5 yrs) and you don’t have to do a long period in general surgery to lead into it.

        Thanks so much once again,


  34. Hello!

    I’m currently preparing my documents to send to MEBEKO to get on the Swiss register of medical practitioners and had a quick question: did you send your GMC certificate or medical degree certificate?

    MEBEKO refers to sending your ‘diploma’, but as in the U.K. you need F1 to have a full licence to practice, is it more appropriate to send the GMC certificate? Or both??


  35. Hi Anjani,
    Thanks a lot for the helpful information!
    I am a spanish medical doctor currently preparing to get the MEBEKO certification in order to do my specialty training in the french speaking side of Switzerland. I would appreciate if you could give your input about the following questions:

    1. Is the MEBEKO certification needed in advance only for A-category hospitals or would you recommend to have it before applying for less competitive hospitals too?
    2. Would you recommend applying to internal medicine to acquire experience if pursuing a surgical residency or is it feasible to apply directly to a general surgery program?
    3. How long does it take to get the work visa after you get an employment contract for EU citizens?
    4. I have read that according to the FMH, it is only mandatory to do two years of your specialty in swiss hospitals. I’d like to know if in reality it is simple or not for exchanges in foreign countries to be accepted (especially regarding collaboration with NGOs such as Doctors without Borders)

    Thank you a lot in advance!


  36. Hello! I just finished medical school and want to become an ophtalmologist. Is it too competitive to try and get into this specialty right away? Should I do one year of other specialty (which one?)? Where can I find hospitals that accept interns?

    Thank you so much!


  37. CHF 8.416 per month is a princely sum, I think that’s the highest medical residents are paid anywhere in the entire world.
    However, I know that Switzerland is very expensive too. It would be great to have your thoughts on the cost of living, expenses etc.


  38. Hi Anjani,

    Super helpful forum and loads of very good information. I am currently an F1 in the UK (originally from Germany) and have been preparing to go over to CH for a long time now as I have been doing lots of research with teams over there and completed a stint as Unterassistent over there as well. My plan is to go after finishing F2 in the UK which still gives me loads of time. Currently, I am scheduled for interviews at a few swiss hospitals and I am going to go about gaining MEBEKO registration towards the end of this year (while Brexit is still in transition period but once I have full GMC registration).

    Three questions really:
    1) What does your MBBS really mean over there? Are you entitled to carry any title at all? Did you have to go about a Dr. med. Promotion?
    2) Being a native German but having done our degrees in the UK, do they still want us to show them language certificates?
    3) Any Spitäler that you recommend in German-speaking CH that are known to provide excellent training in internal medicine? Any personal experience?

    Thank you very much for your replies!


  39. Hi Anjani! Do you know if language requirements are still on on B2 level? Is there any professional language test? Did I got it right, that if one have medical internship including in a study (get a full medical licence after medical school) it means that that person can apply straight into a specialisation?


  40. Thanks a lot.It was quite an informative blog.
    I’m currently doing my masters in orthopaedics from India.
    I wanted to know that can I practice orthopaedics in Switzerland. Is there any provision for it in Switzerland.
    Thanks again.


  41. Hi!

    Thanks for the wonderful insight! I am a Finnish med student! I speak Italian, and was wondering is there a place where I can look for residency programs in Italian?

    Do you know which specialties are more likely to get accepted in?
    And vice versa? Which are needed etc.

    Thank YOU!


    1. Hi, thank you so much for posting this article, it was extremely helpful. I was wondering if you knew anything about how to apply for higher training in the French-speaking parts of Switzerland. I am of french nationality, having gone to Ireland for my medical degree and completed my internship there, and was hoping to specialize in Switzerland afterwards. Is it a similar system as the one you described above? Or do they have a completely different way of soing things. I know Belgium operates very differently in the French speaking parts vs the flemish speaking ones when it comes to medical school, hence my question. I also took German in school for 7 years and passed the Deutsches Sprachdiplim when I graduated from an international school in France with a B2 german level, do you have any idea if that would meet the german speakung requirements you mentioned?
      Sorry for all the questions; thanks again!


  42. What are the languauge requirements for applying to specialise in Switzerland. Also I imagine the courses you can take are entirely in English? But in practice how much can you rely on English to effectively communicate with a patient and how much do you need to lean on another language like French or German?


  43. Hello Anjani ,

    That was indeed a crisp & good overview about the specialty training in Switzerland. However, I would like to know whether is it possible for a doctor who graduated in India, entered UK specialty training & went on to attain CCT in the UK to come & work in Switzerland as a consultant . My apologies if my question was inappropriate but I am just curious to know.


  44. Hi doctor Anjani, I am a current medical student from South Africa and I really want to immigrate after I graduate and Switzerland is a real dream for me.
    I just have reservations about language. My first language is English, but my second language (I’m fully bilingual just slightly better in English) is Afrikaans. I would say I am probably between Super-intermediate and Advanced in my Afrikaans language skills if I had to guage myself on my proficiency which is between B2 and C1 if I would apply it to that scale arbitrarily. So I wouldn’t think learning German or Swiss-German would be that hard for me since Afrikaans is a pretty Germanic language related to German, Dutch, Flemish…etc.
    So I’ll be willing to try and learn Swiss-German up to B2 if that is a requirement for further training. But how difficult do you expect it to be for me? And can I start with German and try to adapt to Swiss-German later on? How long do you think it will take if I can self-teach it while I’m studying medicine?

    Also ignoring the actual language requirements for application, how much do you need to speak Swiss-German in reality? Can you get away with speaking English to your colleagues most of the time or not really? Can you speak at least a little bit of English to patients on a very basic, conversational level or will they struggel to understand me?

    I’m sorry for the all the questions but I would really appreciate it if you could give me some insight! Thank you!


  45. Sorry! Another question I want to ask is if it is possible to do my registrarship or fellowship in English in Switzerland, like actually study in English rather than in Swiss-German.

    Sorry for all the questions doctor!


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