Medical Residency In Switzerland

Last Updated on May 12, 2024 by Team College Learners

Imagine having a life that is full of sunshine, vast horizons, and gorgeous scenery. Living in a breathtakingly large and beautiful European nation! Those who are chosen to start their medical residency in Switzerland will have the chance to experience an exotic culture while receiving top-notch medical care.

It is very difficult for a non-European citizen to be admitted to a medical residency training program in Switzerland. The Swiss hospital must prove that they cannot find a qualified resident from Switzerland or another EU-EFTA country to fill an available medical residency position.

To practice as a doctor in Switzerland, foreign medical graduates must obtain a license from the Swiss Medical Board (Medizinalberufekommission or Commission des professions médicales). Here are the general steps to obtain a license:

In Switzerland, medical residency programs offer a wide range of specializations for aspiring doctors to choose from. Each specialization comes with its own unique duration ranging from 3 to 6 years, allowing residents to develop expertise in their chosen field. Whether you’re interested in anesthesia, cardiology, dermatology, or emergency medicine, there is a program tailored to suit your career goals. Other popular specializations include family medicine, gastroenterology, hematology, and neurology, among many others. Below is a comprehensive list of medical residency specializations available in Switzerland:

Eligibility Criteria for Medical Residency in Switzerland:

  1. Medical degree from a recognized institution

  2. Proficiency in the language of the canton

Residency Programs in Switzerland:

  1. Decentralized healthcare system

  2. Various specialties and sub-specialties available

Application Process for Medical Residency in Switzerland:

  1. Submission of application, cover letter, and CV

  2. Interview process

  3. Language proficiency requirements

Salary and Benefits for Medical Residents in Switzerland:

  1. Salary varies by canton and specialty

  2. Benefits include health insurance and vacation time

Duration of Medical Residency in Switzerland:

  1. Length varies by specialty, typically 3-6 years

medical specialization in switzerland

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for our medical residency program in Switzerland.

To give you a quick overview:

  • There are two types of residencies: A1 and A2.
  • The A1 residency lasts for 12 months, while an A2 one lasts for 24 months. The difference between these two residencies is how many hours per week you work during your training period (A1 residents work 40 hours per week, while A2 residents work 60 hours per week).
  • In order to become eligible for an A1 or an A2 residency program in Switzerland, you need to have completed at least 3 years of university education (in any subject). This means if you haven’t yet graduated university with a degree in medicine or science – then don’t worry! You still have time!

Our residency program offers you the opportunity to work with world-renowned experts in their field, gain valuable hands-on experience and help you prepare for your career as a doctor.

The program is offered through our partnership with [partner name], one of the largest medical institutions in Europe and will run from September 2020 until August 2021. The duration of the program is 12 months and consists of 8 months of clinical training and 4 months of coursework at our partner hospital.

The program provides you with an excellent opportunity to develop your skills while gaining invaluable experience working in a European hospital setting. You will be given access to top-notch facilities, equipment and resources as part of an integrated learning environment that promotes teamwork and learning through experience.

You will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a variety of specialties including general surgery, cardiology, internal medicine, pediatrics etc. In addition to clinical training, there will be opportunities for lectures, workshops and research projects which focus on improving patient care through evidence-based medicine (EBM).

This program is designed for non-EU citizens who are interested in pursuing a career in medicine. It is a four-year program and can be completed entirely online. Students will have the opportunity to take courses from major universities in Europe and the US, as well as interact with other students around the world.

The curriculum includes:

  •     Life sciences (biology, chemistry, physics)
  •     Immunology and microbiology
  •     Human anatomy and physiology
  •     Biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology
  •     Pharmacology and toxicology
  •   Infectious diseases: bacterial/viral/fungal infections


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).


1. For medical student wishing to enroll in basic medical education program

For local students (according to faculty of medicine of Genève and French medical faculties)

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)


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]

Medical Residency In Switzerland For Non EU - INFOLEARNERS

how long is medical residency in switzerland

The Swiss medical residency program is very competitive and requires a lot of hard work.

If you’re planning on applying, here are five things you should know:

1) The application process is quite rigorous, with many stages and requirements. This can be overwhelming for some people, so make sure you’re ready for it!

2) Once you’ve made it through the application process, there are two rounds of interviews: one in person (with one interviewer) and one over the phone (with two interviewers). These take place over four days in total. You’ll also be required to write an essay about your personal statement or motivation letter.

3) You must have completed at least three years of medical school before applying, but if you are still studying, then you need to have graduated by June 30th 2020 (or earlier). If not, then you won’t be eligible until 2021/2022 at the earliest.

4) To qualify for the Swiss medical residency program, applicants must speak German fluently since all communication with patients will be done in German only; however, English is also accepted as an alternative language for communicating with patients who do not speak German.

how to get medical residency in switzerland

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) 

how to apply for medical residency 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:

Documents Required for the Medical Residency in Switzerland

  1. Curriculum vitae (CV)
  2. Cover letter or letter of motivation
  3. Medical degree certificate and transcripts
  4. Language proficiency certificate (Swiss national languages are German, French, and Italian)
  5. Proof of work experience (if required by the program)
  6. Letters of recommendation from previous supervisors or professors
  7. Passport or other identification documents
  8. Residence permit (for non-EU/EFTA citizens)
  9. Proof of health insurance
  10. Criminal record certificate

Admission Process for Medical Residency in Switzerland

  1. Eligibility: Candidates must hold a medical degree from a recognized university and have completed their internship.
  2. Language Proficiency: Candidates must be proficient in at least one of Switzerland’s official languages: German, French, or Italian. Some cantons may require knowledge of a second official language.
  3. Application: Candidates can apply directly to hospitals or clinics offering residency programs in their chosen specialty. The application usually includes a cover letter, CV, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
  4. Interview: Candidates who meet the application criteria may be invited to an interview with the hospital or clinic’s selection committee.
  5. Selection: After the interviews, the selection committee will choose the candidates for the residency program.
  6. Registration: Once selected, candidates must register with the cantonal medical association and obtain a medical license to practice in Switzerland.

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:REPORT THIS AD

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.

medical residency in switzerland for international students

After the completion of medical studies, all graduates from Switzerland or other Schengen countries can start their residency in Switzerland. Residency is applied for like you would apply for any job, and there are no special qualifications or grade requirements for you to fulfill.

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.

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation is a central European country. It borders Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. At European level, it is a founding member of the European Free Trade Association and is a member of the Schengen area, but not of the European Union or the European Economic Area. There are  four national languages spoken in the country; German (64.9% speakers), French (22.6% speakers), Italian (8.3% speakers ). English is frequently and increasingly used in work and administration. Population is 9 million (2015 est.). Zurich and Geneva are two major economic centers and global cities while Bern is capital of Switzerland.

Switzerland has one of the best health care system in the world. Life expectancy at birth is 82.1 year. Unlike many other European countries, Swiss healthcare system is not tax based or financed by employers but is paid for by the individual through contributions into health insurance schemes. The system is universal but it is administered by individual cantons.

1. Learning the languages of Switzerland

The subject of language can be a little tricky when it comes to Switzerland, as there are 4 official languages in the country: German, Italian, French, and Romansh. Don’t worry, you don’t have to learn every single one of those to be allowed to work as a doctor in Switzerland, as learning one of German, Italian or French is enough.

Of course, depending on the language that you chose, you should probably seek employment in a region in Switzerland where that language is spoken. There is a good chance that you are already familiar with at least one of these 3 languages, so the language barrier in Switzerland is not that huge compared to some other countries. As far as requirements go, doctors need to prove that they possess at least a C1 level of knowledge in at least one of the languages, to be allowed to work in Switzerland as a medical professional. Which language is required depends on the canton that one is applying for.

2. Study in Swiss Medical Schools to Become a Doctor in Switzerland

Swiss universities are some of the best in Europe, and many people from all over the continent and beyond choose Switzerland as their destination for study. Medical students are no exception, and there are thousands of them applying to universities in Switzerland each year. Due to admission restrictions, not everyone is accepted in the schools, and there is an aptitude test carried out each year to select the students with the highest scores. Spots in medical schools across the country are limited, and potential candidates should contact their chosen university for further information.

As is the case with other European countries, medical education in Switzerland lasts for 6 years, the first 3 of which are bachelor’s, followed by 3 additional years of master’s education.

3. Required Tests and Residency

There are no extra tests or examinations after you finish medical school in Switzerland, or prior to starting your residency. However, graduates from outside the EEA are required to pass both parts of the Swiss federal medical exam, to be accepted for a residency in Switzerland, which is the first step in becoming a medical doctor in Switzerland.

After the completion of medical studies, all graduates from Switzerland or other Schengen countries can start their residency in Switzerland. Residency is applied for like you would apply for any job, and there are no special qualifications or grade requirements for you to fulfill. No extra examinations are required prior to or after the completion of your residency in Switzerland, but if you want to continue working there after the residency, you will need to take the Swiss federal medical exam.

4. Obtaining a Medical License

Switzerland has some of the most rigorous processes for obtaining a medical license in Europe, for both Swiss nationals and foreigners. There are 3 main ways to become medically licensed in the country.

The first is to graduate from a Swiss Medical school, after which you become immediately eligible for a residency, and then for taking the final medical exam before getting your license. The second option is to apply for a 3-year residency in Switzerland, for which you will first need to pass both parts of the national medical examination. The final option is to work for 2 more years as a resident, so a total of 5 years, after which you can get medically licensed by only passing the written part of the medical exam.

After completing one of these steps, you become a licensed doctor in Switzerland, and the final step is to register with the local Cantonal Medical Office.

5. Getting a Work Visa

All citizens of Schengen countries are allowed to start working as a doctor in Switzerland, if they possess a medical license, of course. Other foreigners will also need a residence permit on top of the medical qualifications and license. In order to be allowed to stay In the country for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for the Swiss National Visa.

While applying for a regular Schengen Visa can be done online, the National Visa has to be applied for at your local Swiss embassy. The visa application process is generally quick and easy, at least once you get an appointment with the embassy, but please take into consideration that you first need to find employment before applying for a visa. You can find more personalized info on Switzerland’s online visa system.

6. Finding Jobs as a Doctor

There are many websites where you can look for employment in Switzerland, and apply directly. There is also another way to get your foot in the door of a Swiss hospital, and that is by applying for an “Assistenzart” position. You will need to pass a difficult test and have at least a B2 knowledge of German, but you will need that anyway if you want to become a doctor in Switzerland. You can apply for an Assistenzart position with the Bundesamt fur Gesundheit (BAG), by sending them an e-mail.

Private practitioners are also in high demand in Switzerland, especially in rural areas. Opening up your own practice is fairly straightforward, and being licensed to work as a medical professional in Switzerland is the only requirement you need to meet. However, knowledge of the local language is also very crucial, particularly for rural areas that are ideal for private practitioners.

7. How Foreign-trained doctors can work in Switzerland

All foreign-trained doctors with a degree from a country that is a member of the EEA can start working in Switzerland using the license that they obtained in their home country, if they meet the language requirements, They will also need to register for a permit from the Cantonal Medical Office (KAZA), in the canton that they want to move in. For example, if one wishes to work in Zurich, he will need to apply with the local Health Administration. The process for doctors from outside the EEA is a little more complicated, as they first need to sort out their work visas and find employment in a Swiss hospital. They will also need to pass the Swiss federal medical exam to be allowed to start working in the country as a medical professional, in addition to getting a permit from the local canton.

Undergraduate Medical Education

Undergraduate medical education starts after 9 years of school education (detailed structure of education in Switzerland )

Switzerland has 7 universities and medical schools. Medical studies in the country are available either in French or in German. Some of the popular universities are:

  •  Genève ( in French )
  •  Lausanne (in French )
  •  Bâle (in German )
  •  Berne ( in German )
  •  Zurich (in German)

In addition, two other universities also allow undergraduate medical studies in Faculty of Science:

  • Neuchâtel : first year in French
  • Fribourg : first and second year in French and German

Medical studies in Switzerland are organized in 3 cycles:

  • 1st cycle: bachelor:3 years
  • 2nd cycle: master: 3 years
  • 3rd cycle: postgraduate training/specialty

Entry into German and Fribourg medical faculties for local and foreign students requires passing a competitive exam called “test d’aptitude pour les études en médécine” which is conducted by The Center for Test Development and Diagnostics (CTD) (associated with the Department of Psychology at the University of Freiburg) on behalf of Swiss University Conference called “le Conseil des hautes écoles de la Conférence suisse des hautes écoles (CSHE)”.

Entry into French medical faculties for local and foreign students who meet eligibility criteria require having certificate called Matura (maturité gymnasiale) and other documents (see below documentation section).

What is a Medical Residency Program & What to Expect? | AUC

medical residency in switzerland for foreigners


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

4. For recognition of postgraduate diploma from EU/EFTA countries (for license 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.
Medical Residency in Switzerland for Non EU –

Medical residency in Switzerland is a great option for students who want to gain practical experience and develop their professional skills.

It is important to be aware of the differences between medical residency in the United States and Switzerland. In Switzerland, medical residents are paid less than they would be in the United States and therefore receive less support from their employers. However, this does not mean that you should avoid applying for a position there.

If you are looking for an opportunity to further your career in medicine, then it makes sense to consider applying for a residency program in Switzerland. While there may be some challenges associated with living abroad and working under less favorable conditions than those available in the United States, there are many benefits associated with being able to live in such a beautiful country while gaining valuable experience working with doctors who have been practicing medicine for many years.

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