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Swiss medicine Doctors increasingly female, general, foreign and old

The number of female doctors in Switzerland is on the rise.


Their faces are changing rapidly, yet doctors in Switzerland are slow to retire. And nearly one in three has a foreign medical degree.

According to statistics published by the Swiss Medical Associationexternal link on Wednesday, last year there were 36,175 doctors working in Switzerland – nearly 59% of them male. However, the number of female doctors has risen by nearly 38% since 2010. 

More than half (51%) work in the outpatient sector – that is, in practices. Part-time work at practices is on the rise, with women logging an average of 6.9 half-days per week, and men doing 8.9. This is not so common in hospitals. 

Switzerland has 4.2 doctors for every 1,000 inhabitants. But considering the fact that many work part time, the coverage is more like 3.8 doctors per 1,000 people – still above the OECD average of 3.3. 

In 2016, 11,900 of the doctors working in Switzerland had a foreign medical degree – in other words, nearly 33% (2015: 31.5%). More than half (53.6%) of foreign specialists come from Germany; many others come from Austria (10.8%), Italy (9.6%) and France (3%). 

Over the past decade, the number of doctors over 65 has more than tripled. There were 1,347 general practitioners over 65 working in 2016. In 2008, there were just 409. The authors of the report say that while many GPs simply enjoy their work, others are struggling to find successors to take over their practices. Nevertheless, there has been a big GP boom; their numbers have risen by 31% since 2008.

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