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Old 10.08.2020, 13:57
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UK GP Moving to Switzerland

Hello All,

I know there have been many threads about this subject but a lot of the threads are about hospital doctors.

I moved to Basel in 2019. I am a UK qualified GP.

I have partially registered with the Swiss Medical Board who have recognised my UK MBBS, GMC and Certificate of Completion of Speciality Training (CCT). I am currently working towards my French B2..(my German is zero, and whilst I am learning basic German the time it would take me to get to B2/C1 will be very lengthy I expect). The time for me to do this in French would be significantly less.

My question is once I have my B2 French qualification (very happy to move/commute to a french speaking area ? Delemont) - how feasible/easy will it be for me to get a post in a clinic? Would a Basel clinic accept me if patients would choose to consult in English? Would I still need to do an apprenticeship/assistant post if qualified as a GP already?

Was not sure of the procedure once one is registered on the Swiss medical register with the mandated language proficiency.

Thanks in Advance
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Old 10.08.2020, 14:19
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

I'd be very surprised if B2 would be accepted for a GP - quite frankly. I certainly would not entertain seeing a GP with such a low level of language- and especially not specialist language.


Having said that, you have a much higher chance in areas away from larger towns, in the BE Jura, Jura, Ne Jura, VD Jura- where they are struggling to recruit GPs - at a time when all the baby boomer GPs are retiring 'en masse'.

Last edited by JackieH; 10.08.2020 at 15:54.
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Old 10.08.2020, 16:12
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

They will only accept you to work if you have the required language level. Itís not just about treating patients who want an English speaking Dr, you will need to be able to read and send reports in French to other Drs and communicate with other Drs, insurance companies etc etc.
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Old 10.08.2020, 16:52
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

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Would I still need to do an apprenticeship/assistant post if qualified as a GP already?

Was not sure of the procedure once one is registered on the Swiss medical register with the mandated language proficiency.

Thanks in Advance
As I understand it, once you are on the Swiss Register you are permitted to work in the capacity registered (i.e. as a GP). As far as legalities are concerned, I don't believe you would need to do an Assistant (post-graduate but pre "board" job).

However, legalities are one thing....landing a job is another. I suspect you might have difficulty getting a full GP post with limited French (my German is C1+ and taking a medical history is still rather tricky at times). While it is not required, taking an Assistant post to get the French up to speed and understand the ins and outs of the Swiss medical system might be the practical option.

Unlike Assistant posts in UK / US, it's quite usual for the contract to be one or two years - the trainee is expected to work in more than one hospital before qualification. So most hospitals would not be distressed at the idea of someone being with them for only 1 year.
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Old 10.08.2020, 17:13
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

You might be better trying the Geneva-Lausanne corridor (La CŰte) where the demand for English speaking Dr.s is higher.

Mind you Iíve lived here for over 30 years and every Dr. that Iíve been to has spoken very good English.
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Old 10.08.2020, 17:28
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

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Hello All,

I know there have been many threads about this subject but a lot of the threads are about hospital doctors.

I moved to Basel in 2019. I am a UK qualified GP.

I have partially registered with the Swiss Medical Board who have recognised my UK MBBS, GMC and Certificate of Completion of Speciality Training (CCT). I am currently working towards my French B2..(my German is zero, and whilst I am learning basic German the time it would take me to get to B2/C1 will be very lengthy I expect). The time for me to do this in French would be significantly less.

My question is once I have my B2 French qualification (very happy to move/commute to a french speaking area ? Delemont) - how feasible/easy will it be for me to get a post in a clinic? Would a Basel clinic accept me if patients would choose to consult in English? Would I still need to do an apprenticeship/assistant post if qualified as a GP already?

Was not sure of the procedure once one is registered on the Swiss medical register with the mandated language proficiency.

Thanks in Advance
Hello, and welcome.

It seems to me that you're making an error of nomenclature, and thereby an artifical disctinction between a "hospital" (which you don't seem to want) and a "clinic" (which you do seem to want). In general, here, with the possible exception of psychiatric clinics, which may be a separate business, a "clinic" here is often simply a competence centre - housed within a hospital - in a certain field, dealing with in-patient and out-patient treatment, such as a gyn clinic, or a clinic for neurology. The nurses and doctors staffing the clinics are employees of the hospital.

Furthermore, although Basel borders on France, the Swiss part of Basel is in two cantons: Basel Stadt and Basel Land. Both of those have German and not French as their language. I wholeheartedly agree with what others have said, that you will need a competent level of the local language in the area of your employer, so as to listen to your patients and their relatives or out-patient nurses, to read and write reports, to understand what those junior and senior to you are telling you, to deal with phonecalls from insurers, to participate in meetings and to be able to act fast in emergencies. Having said that, the train service is super, and yes, many people do commute into other language areas, if that's what makes sense, and where employment can be found.

The absolute Go To thread for a doctor seeking to work in Switzerland is that of drremobond. He has spent a great deal of time and effort gathering wonderfully detailed info on all the steps, for both EU and non-EU doctors with EU and non-EU qualifications.

His thread is long, but lovingly careful, and I think it might well be worth your while working your way through it. Good luck!
https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...itzerland.html.
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Old 10.08.2020, 17:34
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

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It seems to me that you're making an error of nomenclature, and thereby an artifical disctinction between a "hospital" (which you don't seem to want) and a "clinic" (which you do seem to want). In general, here, with the possible exception of psychiatric clinics, which may be a separate business, a "clinic" here is often simply a competence centre - housed within a hospital - in a certain field, dealing with in-patient and out-patient treatment, such as a gyn clinic, or a clinic for neurology. The nurses and doctors staffing the clinics are employees of the hospital.
I got the impression, as the OP is a GP, what they meant by clinic is a GP surgery (Hausartz).
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Old 10.08.2020, 17:44
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

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I got the impression, as the OP is a GP, what they meant by clinic is a GP surgery (Hausartz).
Yes, that may well be so. My point was that that's not what "clinic" means here in Switzerland, and that if OP reads up about things using that term, she's likely to get different info from what she had in mind while using the term "clinic" from her home country.

If OP means a GP (Hausarzt) private practice or surgery, then I think that it is even less likely that she would be able to work there, either as an employee or in her own name, until she was fully competent in a local language. At least in a hospital there are many more staff members around to help fill the gaps, while she's learning and catching up.
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Old 11.08.2020, 09:42
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Yes, it's difficult. My added difficulty is that we may only be in Basel for 1-2 years, but may return to Basel again after a few years (say 5-7 years time). Maintaining any language proficiency is going to be the issue.

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As I understand it, once you are on the Swiss Register you are permitted to work in the capacity registered (i.e. as a GP). As far as legalities are concerned, I don't believe you would need to do an Assistant (post-graduate but pre "board" job).

However, legalities are one thing....landing a job is another. I suspect you might have difficulty getting a full GP post with limited French (my German is C1+ and taking a medical history is still rather tricky at times). While it is not required, taking an Assistant post to get the French up to speed and understand the ins and outs of the Swiss medical system might be the practical option.

Unlike Assistant posts in UK / US, it's quite usual for the contract to be one or two years - the trainee is expected to work in more than one hospital before qualification. So most hospitals would not be distressed at the idea of someone being with them for only 1 year.
Thank you for your reply. If you struggle with C1 then it really is going to be difficult for me. An assistant post may be interesting to explore.

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Hello, and welcome.

It seems to me that you're making an error of nomenclature, and thereby an artifical disctinction between a "hospital" (which you don't seem to want) and a "clinic" (which you do seem to want). In general, here, with the possible exception of psychiatric clinics, which may be a separate business, a "clinic" here is often simply a competence centre - housed within a hospital - in a certain field, dealing with in-patient and out-patient treatment, such as a gyn clinic, or a clinic for neurology. The nurses and doctors staffing the clinics are employees of the hospital.

Furthermore, although Basel borders on France, the Swiss part of Basel is in two cantons: Basel Stadt and Basel Land. Both of those have German and not French as their language. I wholeheartedly agree with what others have said, that you will need a competent level of the local language in the area of your employer, so as to listen to your patients and their relatives or out-patient nurses, to read and write reports, to understand what those junior and senior to you are telling you, to deal with phonecalls from insurers, to participate in meetings and to be able to act fast in emergencies. Having said that, the train service is super, and yes, many people do commute into other language areas, if that's what makes sense, and where employment can be found.

The absolute Go To thread for a doctor seeking to work in Switzerland is that of drremobond. He has spent a great deal of time and effort gathering wonderfully detailed info on all the steps, for both EU and non-EU doctors with EU and non-EU qualifications.

His thread is long, but lovingly careful, and I think it might well be worth your while working your way through it. Good luck!
https://www.englishforum.ch/educatio...itzerland.html.
Thanks for your reply. Yes, apologies our fellow poster is correct I did mean a Hausartz. I have had a look through this thread above briefly but found it was more centred on hospital doctors as opposed to GPs? I will take another look nonetheless.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 11.08.2020 at 20:10. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 11.08.2020, 10:10
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

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Yes, it's difficult. My added difficulty is that we may only be in Basel for 1-2 years, but may return to Basel again after a few years (say 5-7 years time). Maintaining any language proficiency is going to be the issue.
Just thinking out loud... no idea if this is an option or not. But, lots of charities are based in the French speaking part of Switzerland... like MSF for example. Maybe you could think about working/volunteering with a medical charity if you can't get into the Swiss system... keep your hand in and improve your French
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Old 11.08.2020, 11:51
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

You will need to be able to speak in the language of the canton you are working in and english won't help you much as all the contracts, papers and referrals etc. will be in french/italian/german. To work in Basel you will need German.

Generally, they are desperate for GPs in Switzerland, you could always work as an 'Assistenzarzt' at a practice like Permanence. The more rural you go, the more desperate they are. You will still be left to work pretty independently and the salary is reasonable if you have years of experience (probably better than what a specialist earns working in the hospitals).

Not sure if you are aware but in Switzerland the specialisation is called 'Allgemein innere Medizin', there is no differentiation between GPs' and Physicians. It's a specialisation with the same rules and hoops to jump through as any other, like Neurosurgery or Dermatology. The standard of training though is far below what you are used to and the written exam will be easy for you to pass with a few weeks of studying. It's nothing like UK training, not necessary...if unsure, just do a CT Scan :-/

I would recommend getting an 'Assistenzarzt' post at one of those GP practices (Permanence, Centramed, Notfallpraxis at the hospitals etc.) to get to know the system and working out the details from there.

An Assistenzarzt btw. is actually a MO/Registrar post in Switzerland... it's just a stupid title that makes you sound like the secretary. For a GP Practice, it just means there needs to be a specialist around for you to ask questions, which is probably a good idea for you at the beginning anyway since you are new to the system here. You will find though, that often your so-called senior has far less of a clue than you do...you quickly learn to ask less questions then and fortunately in a GP practice you will be left to your own to see the patients anyway.
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Old 11.08.2020, 14:41
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

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You will need to be able to speak in the language of the canton you are working in and english won't help you much as all the contracts, papers and referrals etc. will be in french/italian/german. To work in Basel you will need German.

Generally, they are desperate for GPs in Switzerland, you could always work as an 'Assistenzarzt' at a practice like Permanence. The more rural you go, the more desperate they are. You will still be left to work pretty independently and the salary is reasonable if you have years of experience (probably better than what a specialist earns working in the hospitals).

Not sure if you are aware but in Switzerland the specialisation is called 'Allgemein innere Medizin', there is no differentiation between GPs' and Physicians. It's a specialisation with the same rules and hoops to jump through as any other, like Neurosurgery or Dermatology. The standard of training though is far below what you are used to and the written exam will be easy for you to pass with a few weeks of studying. It's nothing like UK training, not necessary...if unsure, just do a CT Scan :-/

I would recommend getting an 'Assistenzarzt' post at one of those GP practices (Permanence, Centramed, Notfallpraxis at the hospitals etc.) to get to know the system and working out the details from there.

An Assistenzarzt btw. is actually a MO/Registrar post in Switzerland... it's just a stupid title that makes you sound like the secretary. For a GP Practice, it just means there needs to be a specialist around for you to ask questions, which is probably a good idea for you at the beginning anyway since you are new to the system here. You will find though, that often your so-called senior has far less of a clue than you do...you quickly learn to ask less questions then and fortunately in a GP practice you will be left to your own to see the patients anyway.
Thanks a lot for your reply. I have researched that really only viable options to work in French is to either work in Jura (but has minimum C1 requirement) or Bern (French or German to B2) and as you say considering a Assistenzarzt may be a good option to get my foot in the door and learn the system and the language further whilst on the ground.

To add to my difficulties we may leave Switzerland next year (due to husbands job) and have a need to travel for a few years before potentially returning back to Switzerland..so the path is not straightforward as it would be easy to commit to the time needed for language if it was a certainty for the future....we'll see what happens!
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Old 11.08.2020, 19:04
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Re: UK GP Moving to Switzerland

Have you considered looking for something in pharma instead - english, plenty around in Basel? I took the long road to specialise as a doctor in Switzerland and am still 50:50 about finding something in pharma. The work conditions and salary in the health sector, although far better than in the UK and many other places in the world, are sadly still just not very competitive. In your case, unless you are very against it, it would make even more sense.
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