Does Switzerland really need more medical students?


(IFMSA, 2016)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Jérémy Glasner & March Eich (swimsa Co-Vice-presidents for Medical Education 2015/16), both medical students from Switzerland. The translation was made by Federico Mazzola (swimsa President 2016/17). The writers are members of Swiss Medical Students’ Association (swimsa) Medical Education Committee, affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA).

It is no secret – every patient seeking a Swiss hospital or a family doctor outside big cities notices it clearly. We do not have enough doctors. Due to this finding the federal council will invest 100 million Swiss francs (€ 91 million) over 4 years to increase the number of medical students. This sum attracts a lot of interest: the University of Zurich and Berne want to increase their capacity, the ETH Zurich has always dreamt of their own Bachelors degree in clinical medicine, whilst Fribourg, Ticino, Saint Gallen, and Lucerne would love to establish a Masters program (years 4-6 of Swiss university training of MDs).

The Swiss Medical Students’ Association represents all Swiss medical students. Attentively we have compiled a policy paper on Quality Assurance and the Future of Medical Studies, serving as basis of this article. Naturally we support the initiative, which will allow more graduates to follow their dreams and enable Switzerland to be more independent from its neighbouring countries. This independence may also help to alleviate the shortage of doctors in surrounding countries caused by the import of foreign doctors into Switzerland.

Firstly, this shortage has many influenceable factors. On the one hand, the doctor shortage is relative, since some specialities are more affected than others: family medicine and psychiatry as prime examples. On the other hand, rural areas suffer more than urban ones. Additionally, the divergence between the work-life-balance expectation of the current generation and the effective working conditions lead to many doctors quitting their profession.

Secondly, creating a new medical course is hard work. In our experience the change of one system to another is difficult, especially since every university has their very own curriculum.

Finally, a quick increase in the number of medical students may negatively impact academic quality, which currently enjoys a high reputation in Switzerland. Without any infrastructural development, lecture halls will reach capacity. More importantly, having a limited number of patients, facilities and medical educators it proves difficult to sustain small group learning, essential for clinical training.

These obstacles can be overcome and provide a chance to bring innovation to the Swiss medical landscape: suffering specialities can be promoted and made attractive throughout the curriculum, in addition to ameliorating their working conditions and their salaries. Moreover, a better task distribution between different medical profession should be considered, next to creating a better working atmosphere, allowing every doctor to fully flourish at work and at home. The key to organising a new medical curriculum is cooperation and collaboration. The numerous institutions involved have to work as a team to secure that courses follow a clear concept.

We plight for quality before quantity, especially for the safety and comfort of patients. Only universities with enough human, financial, and infrastructural resources are able to offer a student-centred education and conserve the individuality of each future doctor.

Swimsa is delighted to be involved in the development of the best possible education for future doctors and therewith hopes to contribute to an excellent treatment for each and every patient.

Visit for the full policy statement
(available in German and French). 

About the authors

Jérémy and Marc were the swimsa Vice-Presidents for Medical Education from 2014 to 2016. Together with the swimsa Medical Education Committee they have compiled numerous policy papers, giving Swiss medical students a strong voice. The policy paper on Quality Assurance and the Future of Medical Studies is one of their greatest successes, gaining support by the Union of Students of Switzerland and the according commission of the Swiss Federal Council. Jérémy currently sits in the commission working on the new Swiss Catalogue of Learning Objectives (SCLO), whilst Marc is the delegate to the resident and attending doctors’ association (VSAO).










Join the Hive!

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

Tax crimes: special committee calls for a European financial police force

Intergenerational, intercultural, interactive – The 2015 edition of JADE’s Generations Club: Transforming Europe into an entrepreneurial society

EP President at the European Youth Event: “Your ideas are key in shaping EU’s future”

Greener economies and investment to reduce unemployment and increase global growth

Tributes for ‘role model’ former UN refugee agency chief, Sadako Ogata

South Sudan: UN rights experts see little headway on peace deal amid spike in local-level violence

These 11 EU states already meet their 2020 renewable energy targets

European creativity and digital economy are drowning in a copyright swamp

A Sting Exclusive: “Our ambition is by 2020 Indonesia to become an emerging power of World’s Maritime Access”, reveals the Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy of Indonesia in Brussels, treating WEF, ASEAN and EU-Indonesia relations on the eve of the World Economic Forum East Asia 2015 in Jakarta

Getting African Women into the Boardroom

Europe plans to send satellites into space to monitor CO2 emissions

How to close the gender pay gap in three steps

Over 80 per cent of schools in anglophone Cameroon shut down, as conflict worsens

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Comprehensive listening: a tool to humanize Primary Healthcare and medical specialties

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: UN Climate Chief Calls for Final Push to Meet Adaptation Fund Goal Very Close to Target

5 ways to #BeatAirPollution

EU adopts new €100 million assistance package to benefit refugees and local communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq

Fair Taxation: New EU-wide system to resolve tax disputes between Member States applies from today

Chile ups foreign bribery enforcement but flawed case resolutions are insufficient to ensure transparency and accountability

Learn from the margin, not the center: digital innovation with social impact as transformative force bridging digital divide

Scores killed in ‘barbaric’ attack on Mali village, UN chief urges restraint, calls for ‘dialogue’ to resolve tensions

The Middle East needs a technological revolution. Start-ups can lead the way

This company helps women to become solar entrepreneurs

Trump wants to implicate China in US attacks against global order

3 ways to rebuild trust in how we regulate technology

Estonian Prime Minister Ratas: Europe is a thought that must become a feeling

Work and reforms of the UN ‘at risk’, Guterres warns Member States, amidst ‘record-level’ cash crisis

FROM THE FIELD: facing up to the extreme mental health pressures of conflict

Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home

Africa is launching the world’s largest free trade area – but these are the stumbling blocks

Why Africa must be ready to take the quantum leap

EU out to conquer African Union summit

London is planting a giant bee corridor to boost insect numbers

Jade Spring Meeting 2017 – day 2: Coporate workshops, general assembly and magna moment

3 reasons we should all care about biodiversity

Economy and living standards of Gaza ‘eviscerated’ by crippling blockade – UN trade and development report

Parliament seals 2014 EU budget and the spending ceiling until 2020

Microplastics have spread right to the sea bed, study finds

Mediterranean migrant drownings should spur greater action by European countries, urge UN agencies

‘Counter and reject’ leaders who seek to ‘exploit differences’ between us, urges Guterres at historic mosque in Cairo

From Grexit to Brexit: UK industry now says the in/out referendum is good for your health

The Peoples are missing from EU’s monetary union

From ‘strength to strength’ UN-African Union security partnership growing, Security Council hears

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

UN chief hails ‘very important role’ of Human Rights Council, as US withdraws, citing alleged bias

MEPs approve boost to workers’ rights in the gig economy

The world’s landmine stockpiles in numbers

Digital Single Market: New EU rules for online subscription services

G20 LIVE: G20 Antalya Summit in Numbers, 15-16 November 2015

5 neuroscience hacks that will make you happier

Will the end of QE come along with ECB’s inflation target?

Will Europe be able to deal with the migration crisis alone if Turkey quits the pact?

We can build a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Here’s how

This chart shows the fall in coal-power plants being planned around the world

Training for staff in early childhood education and care must promote practices that foster children’s learning, development and well-being

While EU Open Days 2013 discuss the 2020 strategy, Microsoft shares a glimpse of EU 2060

Global climate change: consequences for human health in Brazilian cities

The Commission sees ‘moderate recovery’ but prospects deteriorate

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s