Voters in the canton of St Gallen have approved the creation of a new Masters course in medicine at a cost of CHF2.1 million ($2.13 million) per year. The move comes amid a government drive to produce more home-trained doctors.
After receiving a clear mandate from voters, St Gallen will make room for 40 training positions at the cantonal hospital from 2020. Students will first complete a Bachelor’s course at Zurich’s cantonal hospital as the two cantons collaborate on the project.
Some 44% of medical specialists practicing in eastern Switzerland in 2016 came from abroad. Around 30% of doctors practising in Switzerland have foreign qualifications, rising to 40% in hospitals.
Switzerland has around 4 doctors per 1,000 inhabitants, which is a high level by international standards. But this is only because Switzerland attracts so many foreign imports. This may be harder to sustain following a 2014 referendum to restrict the number of EU workers coming to the country.
The government says it wants to produce more home-trained doctors. It says 1,300 new medics are needed per year by 2025 to ensure health care provision in the country. Currently 900 a year are being trained.
To meet this aim, it has announced a one-off CHF100 million ($101 million) cash injection for medical training over the period 2017-2020.