Due to the shortage of healthcare workers, there is a strong demand for nurses in Switzerland. However, in order to work as a nurse in Switzerland, the applicant must be proficient in at least one national language such as German, Italian or French.
In addition, a foreign nurse who wishes to apply to a Swiss institution must have the equivalence of his or her qualifications determined by the Swiss Red Cross. This is a fee-based service that costs around €500. Depending on the country of origin, some may have no problem with their nursing diploma. For others, it may be necessary to take some additional courses and complete training.
In Switzerland, there are two training programmes for nurses: the Swiss University of Applied Sciences and the cantonal nursing school. Both educations last three years, the first one is a university education, the second one is not.
One of the main requirements for admission to work in Switzerland is proficiency in one of the national languages (German, French or Italian). However, there are also international private clinics where English is sufficient.
The Swiss Professional Nursing Association definitely recommends that foreign, non-German-speaking nurses learn the language in order to attend refresher courses. In fact, continuing education is a must for Swiss nurses to advance in their careers. Often the employer pays the (high) costs for these courses. They only have to be reimbursed if you leave your job shortly after completing the courses.
In addition, the Swiss Professional Association for Nurses recommends that foreign nurses who do not speak German attend a course to familiarize themselves with the cultural differences between their country and Switzerland.
Work in Switzerland as a nurse
A nurse has various employment opportunities in Switzerland and can work in different places.
Working as a nurse in Switzerland is more or less the same as in other countries, but can vary depending on the hospital, sector or department head.
Switzerland has a very large and efficient public healthcare system, where the main hospitals are managed by the cantons.
The working environment in Swiss hospitals, especially the relationship between doctors and nurses, is quite good and the overall working atmosphere is positive.
The work of nurses is broadly the same as in public hospitals, but in some international private hospitals English may be sufficient to work.
There is an institution called Altenhilfe that operates nursing homes in almost every community in Switzerland. There is also another institution (SPITEX) that provides home care services.
In this case, the tasks to be performed are generally less complex and are aimed at basic patient care. The workload in a nursing home or home health care is less.
One of the problems of the German-speaking canton is that people do not speak standard German, but local Swiss dialects. In this case, the nurse should also know this Swiss German in order to be able to communicate with patients, doctors and colleagues.
Work in Switzerland as a nurse job search
Foreign nurses who want to apply in a Swiss hospital can send their CV. They must check the job openings on the websites of the companies or the municipalities where the hospitals are located.
Salaries of nurses
The average salary of a nurse in Switzerland is around €5,000 net per month. A newly hired nurse earns around €3,500, while experienced workers can earn up to €7,000 per month.
If you are interested in learning more about how to find work in Switzerland, I recommend you read the article: How to work in Switzerland