Dr Christine Attenhofer Jost and Dr Urs Dürst have provided some interesting information on the subject for ESC readers.
Dr Urs Dürst represents Switzerland in the Council for Cardiology Practice
How is Private Practice represented in Switzerland?
In Switzerland, private practicing cardiologists are all members of the Swiss Society of Cardiology and as of now, we do not have a separate organisation. In the board of the Swiss Society of Cardiology, 5 out of 12 members are colleagues in private practice. The actual head of the Swiss Society of Cardiology is in private practice and affiliated with a University Hospital.
What about regional representation?
In the different regions of Switzerland, we have 13 regional groups of practicing colleagues who are especially involved in the continuous medical education in cardiology and in local politics concerning cost and reimbursement analysis in medicine and cardiology.
Overall, private cardiologists have a very good relationship with the 5 University divisions of cardiology in our country. However, we still plan to improve the working conditions for private cardiologists.
How long does it take to become a cardiologist in Switzerland?
It takes approximately 10 years for young colleagues to go into practice after the university degree of medicine. The official time for formation in cardiology is lower and involves 6 years.
Some demographic data?
In Switzerland, we currently have 7.5 cardiologists per 100,000 inhabitants. In 2006, 1.6 % of all physicians in our country were cardiologists (472 of 28,812 physicians). One of our main concerns is to work together with the general practitioners and internists and to function as their consultants as well as colleagues.
Most members of our society of cardiology work in big cities and districts like Zurich, Berne, Basel, Lausanne, Geneva and St. Gallen. There are only a few members practicing in rural areas. In 2006 the regional association of Zurich numbered 157 members. 53 members were private cardiologists. This association is active in different fields.
Out of the 472 cardiologists in Switzerland, 331 work in private practice and some of them also as consultants in hospitals. Some colleagues (about 35%) are also active in internal medicine. In Switzerland only 33.6% of all physicians are women; however, in cardiology this number is less than 10 %. Within the last year we have welcomed 31 new members in the Swiss Society of Cardiology, 5 of them are females.
What are the diagnostic procedures and interventions performed?
More than 80% perform echocardiography and Holter-examinations. Pacemaker controls are done in only about 30%. A small group is only involved in stress echocardiography, transesophageal echocardiography or nuclear imaging studies.
In 2005, there were 27 invasive cardiology centres (5 University hospitals, 9 public, non-university hospitals, 13 private hospitals), all performing both diagnostic procedures and percutaneous interventions – including 36,436 coronary angiographies and 16,624 percutaneous coronary interventions, by 205 operators (80 of them performing only diagnostic studies).
We would like to thank Dr Attenhofer Jost and Dr Dürst for their collaboration. You can find more information on the Web Site of the Swiss Society of Cardiology http://www.swisscardio.ch/ / http://www.zgk.ch/