Medical Studies and Specialist Training

Do you want to become a doctor? You are not alone with this dream. Medicine studies are in high demand at German universities. Here you will find out what the requirements are, how you can apply, and what you can do after completing the state examination.

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Medicine: One subject, many options

Doctors have an exciting and wide-ranging profession. You can choose from more than 30 specialist areas in Germany, from ophthalmology to forensic medicine. That is one reason why many who are just starting their studies find a future as a doctor particularly attractive. As a result, it can be difficult to get one of the coveted study places in medicine at German higher education institutions.

Selection procedure

A numerus clausus applies nationwide. This key admission restriction is based on your high school grades. At some universities, an additional test for medical courses (TMS, also known as the “medical test”) is required. This is a subject-specific study aptitude test that rates understanding of scientific and medical problems. It is held annually.

Compared to other courses, the demands in medicine are particularly high. Medical studies are very study-intensive and include many exams.

The steps leading to your profession

Medical programmes last at least six years and three months. In contrast to medical-related courses, such as the health and nursing sciences, it is not divided into a bachelor’s and master’s degree. The course is completed with a state examination. The structure of the course is regulated uniformly throughout Germany via the Medical Licensing Regulations (ÄAppO). The course differs from training in other countries in a number of ways.

After the basic course of four semesters and the first of a three-part “medical examination”, a main course of six semesters follows. It brings you closer to professional practice. Students then spend a practical year in a clinic or hospital. You work in surgery, internal medicine and another ward of your choice. Your studies are then completed after the state examination.

Advanced training to become a specialist

When you have passed the oral part of your exam, your medical degree is complete. You can apply for your credentials to work as a physician, called an Approbation, shortly before the oral examination. If you decide to train to become a specialist, you have to plan for another five to six years. The additional training takes place in university clinics or other certified facilities.

Important: Holding up under stress

Good knowledge of German is absolutely necessary for studying medicine at a German university. The medical literature is often in English, but the lectures and exams are mostly not. Scientific skills also play a major role, especially in the first semesters. The so-called Physikum, the examination at the end of the basic course, comprises basic subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, physiology and anatomy. Anyone who wants to succeed in studying medicine needs to be empathetic, tenacious and able to work under stress. All qualities that are also important later in your career.

Medical specialists: Careers beyond caring for the ill

Some 10,000 medical degrees are awarded at universities in Germany every year. And finding a job in a hospital or settling down is not difficult outside of the big cities. Family doctors are urgently needed, especially in rural regions. Health care is making great advances, so people in Germany are living longer. This means they also have to be treated more frequently and at greater expense. As a result, job prospects are also excellent for the future. But there are also interesting jobs outside of traditional medical practices and hospitals. Medical expertise is valuable for careers in medical technology, the pharmaceutical industry, and hospital administration. Management consultancies and insurance companies are also options for people completing a medical degree.

Alternative: Studies in health sciences

The health care system requires more than doctors. The well-being of an entire population is at the centre of the field of public health. Public health examines the interaction between people and their environment, develops strategies for coping with health problems and deals with the economics of health care.

In these courses you are prepared for a variety of careers in the health care industry. Well-trained public health scientists are in demand to promote corporate or municipal health as well as in the pharmaceutical industry, international organizations and consumer protection. Public health departments at schools issue both bachelors and masters degrees in health management, health economics and health education. Some of the courses require prior vocational training, often completed while working part time. These programmes are aimed at people who are already working in therapeutical, care giving or social science professions. The course imparts medical, health and social science knowledge, but also subject-related aspects of psychology and economics.

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