Physics majors can become doctors

Medical studies in Switzerland - structure, application, admission

Many dream of becoming a doctor. The versatility and the lucrative salary prospects make the medical profession attractive to many. The prestige that doctors experience in society is what makes medical studies so popular. Places to study medicine in Switzerland are in high demand. In contrast, the number of places on offer is far too low.

A medical degree is very time-consuming and learning-intensive and you should deal with it intensively before applying for one of the coveted study places. With this article we offer you a decision-making aid and give you an overview of the structure, process and application of medical studies. In order to find out whether the medical profession is actually the right one, you have to deal intensively with your studies and your profession.


Medical studies in Switzerland - requirements

A medical degree requires discipline, perseverance and a willingness to learn. Knowledge of chemistry, biology and physics is also expected, as well as a good command of English. If you have successfully mastered the training, enjoyment in dealing with people and empathy are basic requirements for practicing as a doctor. You should also be aware of the working conditions, e.g. weekend shifts.

The first thing to do to become a medical student is a college entrance qualification. This is obtained when you have successfully completed your Matura or Abitur. In addition, the prospective student must have reached the age of 18 and be able to speak the national language.

Medical studies in Switzerland - selection process

Every year, based on the registrations received, a nationwide decision is made on how the study places will be allocated. If the number of registrations is 120% above the available study places, the Swiss University Conference (SHK) can advise the faculties to set admission restrictions by means of an NC (Numerus Clausus) or aptitude test.

While an aptitude test is used at the universities in Basel, Bern, Freiburg and Zurich (including the Zurich-Lucerne and Zurich-St.Gallen tracks), at the ETH Zurich and the Università della Svizzera italiana, those interested in Neuchâtel receive no test access to medical studies, although only the first year can be studied here. The other years of study can be spent in Geneva or Lausanne. No test is required at these universities either. However, you have to prove your skills in the exams in the first two years.

The aptitude test (EMS) only takes place once a year, usually at the beginning of July, and costs CHF 200. The aptitude test (EMS) does not ask for any professional knowledge so that applicants with a medical qualification are not given preference in the context of an apprenticeship. The test is more about checking how problems are recognized, analyzed and solutions are shown.

Medical studies in Switzerland - registration

As a rule, the medical course is offered in the winter semester. Anyone wishing to apply for a place must apply electronically to swissuniversities by February 15 at the latest. It is passed on to the University of Basel, University of Bern, University of Friborg, University of Genève, University of Lausanne, University of Neuchâtel and the University of Zurich.

The following documents are required for registration:

  • Signed declaration of consent
  • Current color passport photo
  • Copy of an official ID (front and back)
  • University entrance qualification card (e.g. the Matura card, the professional Matura certificate with passerelle, the university certificate or the passed entrance examination); can be submitted later
  • Copy of the registration for medical studies at swissuniversities

Students from abroad must also submit the following documents:

  • Resume / CV
  • High school certificate
  • Certificates from the last three school years
  • Proof of sufficient knowledge of German (at least C1 level)
  • Copy of the residence permit

For the master’s degree, the following documents must be submitted with the registration:

  • Signed declaration of consent
  • Current color passport photo
  • Copy of an official ID (front and back)
  • Resume / CV
  • Motivation letter
  • High school diploma / secondary school leaving certificate including matriculation number
  • University certificate or preliminary transcript of records and information on the status of your studies including missing achievements and time of graduation
  • Confirmation of de-registration from the university last attended
  • Proof of sufficient knowledge of German
  • Copy of the residence permit

Foreign applicants must also submit the following documents, if available:

  • Proof of clinical activity (job reference)
  • Transcript of Records of the mobility studies / exchange semester
  • Decision by MEBEKO regarding the acquisition of the federal diploma for (dentists) doctors

Medical studies in Switzerland - structure

In general, medical studies in Switzerland are divided into a bachelor's and master's degree. Similar to other courses of study, it takes 3 years to obtain a bachelor's degree. The master's degree is achieved after a further 3 years. The medical course therefore takes a total of 6 years. Those who want to study medicine can choose between the study locations Basel, Bern, Lausanne, Geneva and Zurich. The bachelor's degree is also offered in Freiburg.

From the very beginning, problem-based learning and practice-related study programs are combined within medical studies in Switzerland. The curriculum is divided into blocks. So that medical students can easily get started in everyday clinical practice later, in addition to the theory of medical expertise, numerous practical experiences should be gathered directly at the bedside during medical studies. As in other courses, frontal teaching is also taught in group work (tutorials). There are also practical courses for optimal preparation for the medical profession. Of course, part of the course also has to be completed in self-study.

Medical studies in Switzerland - content Bachelor

In the bachelor's degree course, students learn all the important knowledge about the structure and function of the human body and its organs. In addition, there is basic scientific knowledge such as physics and psychological chemistry. The basics of genetics, cell biology, histology and physiology are also part of the learning content. Right from the start, practical experience is gained at regular intervals in the context of family doctor internships. The introduction to clinical processes takes place from the 3rd year. This includes the patient's medical history and physical examination.

The main purpose of the Bachelor's degree is to prepare students for their medical work. Therefore, manual work such as dissecting is not neglected. Molecular biology, psychology, sociology and neurophysiology are also on the curriculum in the bachelor's degree.

The weekly teaching time is around 20 hours. At the end of a semester, a written and an oral-practical exam are taken. Similar to other courses, the course is based on the European credit transfer system (ECTS). Each student must have 60 points per academic year. After passing the bachelor's degree, the master's degree can be started.

Medical studies in Switzerland - content Master

Those who have successfully completed their bachelor’s degree can apply for a master’s degree. However, this does not necessarily have to be a medical degree. Degrees in biomedicine or bio and health sciences are also recognized, with the latter having to be completed within the standard period of study. In addition, a faculty can also request proof of internship, letter of motivation, final grade and aptitude test.

In the master’s course, knowledge of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries is taught. The curriculum also includes internal medicine, surgery, pulmonology, social medicine, psychiatry, radiology and geriatrics. The course can be supplemented by the subjects of complementary medicine, neurosciences, preventive medicine or sex sciences. Part of the class time is also spent on the physiology of aging, regenerative medicine, medical laboratory diagnostics, endocrinology and immune senescence. During the master’s degree, the focus is on clinical training. This part is particularly practice-oriented. In order to gain practical specialist knowledge, group work is carried out directly on the patient. In the last two years of study, the extensive practical work takes place in clinics or practices.

After studying medicine

If you have your master’s degree, you have to take the federal examination in human medicine according to the MedBG. Only those who pass this can practice as an assistant doctor. Many then go on to become a specialist, e.g. in general medicine or surgery. The training then takes another 5 to 6 years.

The necessary skills and competencies for the medical profession are acquired through further training in recognized hospitals and medical practices. This is followed by the specialist examination. Doctors are only allowed to work independently in patient care after successfully passing the specialist examination. The regular reviews are carried out by the specialist medical societies.