By Rechal Fefer
While I lived in Switzerland, one of my best friends was married to a Swiss obstetrician/gynecologist and I got to observe his life first-hand. And, since my brother is a doctor here in the US, I can make some comparisons.
I would say that my Swiss doctor friend had a very good life – the hospital was well-staffed, clean, and modern and the patients, being Swiss, were compliant. There were the usual issues with being called at all hours (babies just don’t seem to arrive during the daytime!). He had a lot of work to do between seeing to his patient’s needs and having to handle administrative matters, but the work/life balance appeared reasonable.
One thing he didn’t have much concern about was being sued – that happens very rarely in Switzerland and, when it does, the damages are pretty much limited to real-world amounts (e.g. lost salary and the like). In the US, OB/GYN’s have one of the highest lawsuit rates of any specialty.
My brother, on the other hand, is a (recently retired) gastroenterologist. I’m pretty sure he retired as soon as possible because the frustration of dealing with the US insurance industry combined with the threat of lawsuits made his practice extremely stressful and less rewarding than it otherwise could have been. It’s a shame because he was an excellent, caring physician.
My Swiss friend, on the other hand, was in his 70’s when we left Switzerland and had no plans to retire anytime soon. That’s just my quick observation on life as a Swiss doctor.