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General Educational Requirements and Professional Conditions for Nurses in Switzerland
Switzerland has a considerable shortage of nurses and other health care professionals. But there is an almost absolute requirement that an applicant speaks one of the national languages (German, French or Italian). The sites below are almost all in German, some have a French Language option. As a consequence of similarity in the nurses education system, which is basically an apprenticeship and not a University level course, and also because of commonality of language, Germany has been the largest supplier of foreign nurses to Switzerland.
If an applicant is required to do some additional courses she/he is usually given a initial job as an auxiliary (obviously at lower pay!). The essential element in getting certified in Switzerland is the ability to speak one of the national languages (German, French, Italian).
All certificates or employment records, such as references submitted for evaluation and for obtaining the credentials have to be in either German, French, Italian or English. The SBK-ASI also recommends foreign, non-German speaking, nurses to follow a course familiarizing themselves with the Cultural differences that exist between their country of origin and those of Switzerland. For more details on all these points, you can contact the place below on the left:
The SBK also runs two continuing education centers, one in the German speaking part and one in the French speaking part. The addresses are shown above.
Switzerland has a very large and reasonably efficient state health service, where the major hospitals are run by the individual cantons (or states). They are also often attached to Universities (which in turn are also state run). In addition, there is also a state run system of care for the elderly, running resident homes in almost every community all over Switzerland. But, besides these extensive state health services and old age care networks, there is a very large and thriving sector of the privately owned hospitals and care facilities which accepts patients from all over the world.
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The primary language of all the sites below is German. Some of them have French language options, but surprisingly few have English language options, even though Switzerland's hospitals are full of foreign clients speaking English
A large part of the Swiss Hospitals are run by the Canton's, that is the individual States. They each have quite restricted salary scales which leave little room for reflecting nurses shortages within specific specialties. Some of the private hospitals offer slightly higher salaries, but by and large the figures shown below are the average. The Cantons of Zurich and Geneva pay slightly higher salaries, while Aargau, despite its proximity to Zurich, pays some of the lowest salaries.
The pay for a staff nurse ranges from SFr 52,000 to SFr 65,600 (end 2004 currently about US$44,500 to US$ 55,500) per year. Employees offering specialties get paid more. Nurses work generally 42 hours per week. There are night shift, weekend and overtime payments which are about 20% higher than the standard hourly rate. Because of the shortage of nurses, there is a good opportunity for overtime. There are also opportunities for time in lieu and in general employers offer three weeks of paid vacations annually. Health Insurance is as a rule not covered by the employer, but it is easily available and by international comparison (except when you come from a country with a National Health Service!) relatively cheap. Some employers offer subsidized housing and restaurant services for staff.
The working environment in Swiss hospitals, especially the relationship between doctors and nurses, is said to be correct but cool. If anyone has personal experience, please send us an e-mail and we will add your comments on this page. Modern management methods, and especially methods of personnel management, appear, from some reports, still to be a kind of mystery for many Swiss hospitals and clinics. But, please write, if you have personal experiences and we will add your comments on that point as well!
There is currently a nursing manpower shortage of about ten percent and a large number of planned positions are not being filled. This figure also varies widely across the country. Foreign nurses amount to approximately 26 % of all nursing staff employed. The requirement of knowledge of a national language and similarities in education and training make German nurses the largest foreign contingent in Switzerland followed by the British.
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Last modified: Monday, May 09, 2005 18:02