As many other European countries, Switzerland is facing a shortage of young general practitioners (GPs). This review summarizes and compares the different characteristics of vocational training programs in Switzerland and other European countries concerning their duration, learning objectives and setting. Countries with a GP-centered healthcare system offer highly structured training programs tailored to the everyday work in general practice, whereas vocational training programs in countries where patients have unlimited access to specialized care are less differentiated. Today, the vocational training of Swiss GPs lacks topically focused learning objectives and seems to be rather underdeveloped when compared to foreign programs. Particularly with regard to the duration and funding of practice-based training periods spent in GP surgeries, Switzerland still has a great development potential.