Shortage of doctors in Switzerland: USI has a clear mission in training tomorrow's physicians


Institutional Communication Service

25 March 2024

According to the 2023 medical statistics published by the Swiss Medical Association (FMH), the number of practising physicians in Switzerland has increased to 41,100, with a total of 35,488 full-time equivalents (FTE) jobs. This marks a 2.3% increase from the previous year. However, despite this increase, the country's healthcare sector is still facing a growing shortage of qualified personnel.

Despite the increase in the number of medical graduates across Switzerland, over 40% of the working doctors in the country come from abroad. The majority of these doctors come from Germany, with a percentage of 50.2% of foreign doctors, followed by Italy at 9.5%, France at 7.1% and Austria at 6%. The FMH has highlighted that the domestic training of doctors is not keeping up with the demand, which raises concerns about the future of the Swiss health system. Half of the practising doctors are over 50 years old, and a quarter of them are over 60, which is alarming.

The shortage of qualified personnel has a detrimental effect on the quality of post-graduate training and patient care. The high administrative burden further reduces the amount of time doctors can spend with patients, which compromises the efficiency of the healthcare system. Consequently, many medical practices are forced to decline new patients, worsening an already strained system.

The FMH, along with other medical organisations, is urging for an increase in the number of training places at universities, as well as the implementation of modern working models, shorter working hours, the reduction of bureaucracy, non-medical tasks, and the adoption of digitalisation. These measures are deemed essential to address the current healthcare crisis and ensure the Swiss healthcare system's long-term sustainability.

The current situation highlights the need for a significant change in the Swiss healthcare sector's approach to medical training and human resources management. Only through a joint commitment between training institutions, medical organisations and health authorities will it be possible to meet the challenges posed by the shortage of doctors and ensure a healthy future for the Swiss population.

Ticino has taken an important step by successfully completing the first cycle of the Master's degree course in Human Medicine, with 47 students passing the federal examination. "Our mission is clear", said Giovanni Pedrazzini, Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, interviewed by Il Quotidiano RSI, "we have the task of training more doctors for the future of the region, Ticino and Switzerland".

The full interview and the report are available in the video below.

Il Quotidiano RSI