Germany or Federal Republic of Germany is a west central European country. It shares its borders with 9 European countries (Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands). Germany has very high standards of living and is 2nd most popular migration destination in the world. Population of 81 million making it 2nd largest in Europe. Berlin is largest and capital city while German is official language of the country.
Germany has oldest universal health care system. Health insurance is mandatory for whole population in the country. Mostly are covered by Public while 11% population is covered by private health insurance. Many health authorities control health system in Germany but Ministry of Health oversees all.
Undergraduate Medical Education
Basic medical education starts after completing secondary school education of 12 to 13 grade and holding Abitur or Fachabitur certification.
Germany has many medical schools (List of medical schools can in Germany can be seen here) Basic medical education is taught in German.
Studying medicine in Germany allows you to work as a doctor in all European countries and many other countries in the world. Undergraduate medical education requires 12 semesters (6 years) compulsory full time. The study period is divided as follows:
- Preclinical study: 2 years.
- Clinical study:3 years
- Internship: 1 year
At the end of each module mentioned above, students have to pass a state exam called Approbation (Approbationsordnung für Ärzte) and present a thesis at end of their education. Upon graduation they are titled as Dr.med.
Foreign students who want to study medicine in Germany, usually their high school qualification is not accepted in Germany and they should complete one year “Studienkolleg” course which will make them eligible to study medicine in German university. For further evaluation of their secondary school education abroad they should check this link (in German). (also see Foreign students who want to study medicine in Germany)
For a number of universities, international applications should be submitted via the University Application Service for International Students, (uni-assist). Usually basic and postgraduate medical education in state universities is free of cost for locals and foreign students. Foreign students can find scholarship or stipends for living and other expenses on Daad (a huge database for basic and postgraduate education). While local and EU/EEA students can also get monthly stipend from Federal Student Financial Aid Program or BAföG.
Institute for Medical and Pharmaceutical Examination Questions is good source of information for medical studies in Germany.
Germany Medical Residency
Germany medical residency or specialty training is is recognized around the world. Generally postgraduate training in medical disciplines is for 5 years and in surgical disciplines for 6 years. They will have to pass and oral exam at the end of Germany medical residency training and will be titled as “Facharzt” (specialist). There is monthly stipend paid to resident doctors. Good German language knowledge (B2 level according to CEFR) is required for Germany medical residency training. German medical residency training is recognized worldwide.
All doctors have to apply personally at many clinics/hospitals where such training jobs are announced. All applicants have to search for open position announcements at all hospitals all over Germany. Foreign medical graduates should get medical licence (recognition for their basic medical qualification) to do residency in Germany. If their basic medical qualification will not be recognized in Germany they will have to sit for an Approbation/aptitude exam. (see procedure below for more detailed information).
In order to practice medicine or carry out specialty training in Germany, all foreign medical & dental graduates should get license so called Approbation from local state health authority where they want to practice medicine in. Foreign medical qualifications are recognized by State Health Authorities. (see below application procedure).
There are two types of recognition of foreign basic and specialist medical qualification/training in Germany:
- Automatic recognition (qualification/training completed in EU/EEA and Switzerland)
- General system for the recognition of evidence of training (education/training completed outside EU/EEA and Switzerland)
Medical specialists qualification and training are recognized or validated by State Chambers of Physician.
To work as medical doctor or specialist in Germany, all foreign doctors should be fluent in German language. Most states require B2 level of German proficiency while some of them need C1 level of German language to issue license.
Foreign medical doctors or specialists with qualification and/or training completed in any of EU/EEA/Swiss area countries, their qualification is automatically recognized in Germany and once they have registered with the state health authority (for basic medical qualification) and State Chambers of Physicians (for any additional specialists qualification), they will be issued license to practice and/or train in Germany.
Foreign medical doctors or specialists with qualification and/or training completed outside EU/EEA/Swiss countries, their qualification is not automatically recognized in Germany. Their need to apply for registration with the state health authority (for basic medical qualification) and State Chambers of Physicians (for any additional specialists qualification), they will be issued license to practice and/or train in Germany. But if their basic medical qualification is not recognized in Germany despite their clinical experience or any additional postgraduate diploma they will be required to sit for an aptitude test (details below in Examination section). After passing this test they will be issued license to practice medicine in Germany.
For Specialists, the State Chambers of Physician and the regional chambers of physicians are the main authorities responsible for the recognition of specialty training completed abroad. A physician must be a member of one of these 17 State Chambers of Physician before his or her specialist qualifications may be assessed for equivalence.
There is also possibility of getting Temporary license to practice medicine in Germany in certain conditions which is issued for maximum 2 years and can be extended. More information can be found here
1. To study medicine in Germany for foreign student:
- German language skills: level B2
- Secondary school certificate equivalent to German Abitur or Fachabitur (if it won’t be considered equivalent, student will be required to complete one year Studienkolleg course).
2. Eligibility for Germany medical residency training for foreign medical graduates
- German language skills (B2, C1 in some states. See German language requirement for different states)
- Basic medical qualification
- License/registration with one of the State Health Authorities
3. Eligibility to practice medicine in Germany
- German language skills: level B2 or C1 for some states (see German language requirement for different states)
- Physically and mentally fitness certificate
- No criminal record
- Registration with health authority from country of origin or last employment
- Good standing certificate from health authority from country of origin or last employment
1. To do Germany medical residency or specialty training
- Start learning German language up to B2 or C1 level depending upon one of the local State Health Authorities (See German language requirement for different states) you want to do registration with and start residency in. (Goethe is an excellent German language learning platform for in Germany and abroad students)
- Meanwhile apply for registration to State Health Authorities with complete documents (mentioned below in documentation section). Also you can use recognition finder to search for competent authorities in each state.
- If your qualification is recognized by State Health Authorities you will be issued with license and then you can apply for Germany medical residency training place in any hospital with available position in your chosen specialty.
- If your qualification is not recognized or found nonequivalent to German basic medical qualification, you will be required to sit for an aptitude test within maximum 2 years. Some states though issue a provisional license and adjustment period, (Anpassungszeit) in which foreign medical graduates will be required to do internship (as German medical students do in their last year).
- Meanwhile fly to Germany and get Residence Permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis) and Working Permit (Arbeits- und Berufserlaubnis) (not required by EU/EEA/Swiss nationals)
- You can also do observship in any hospital in Germany (it will help you understand German health system and you will learn a lot, though it is not paid and not mandatory).
- After getting your license, residence and work permit in Germany, you must search for residency training position in a hospital or clinic there. Also look for available doctors vacancies Federal Employment Agency and German Medical Journal (Deutsches Ärzteblatt) jobs section
- Apply there Sign the residency contract with clinic/hospital and start training.
2. To get license/registration with state health authority to work as General practitioner or Specialiast
- For EU/EEA/Swiss basic medical graduates: Their qualification is automatically recognized in Germany. All they have to do is to apply to one of the State Health Authorities where they want to practice in.
- For Non EU/EEA/Swiss basic medical graduates: Since their qualification will be assessed on case by case base. Certain conditions might apply for issuance of license to them i.e. degree awarding university, basic medical education curriculum, country of origin, years of experience etc. If their qualification will not be considered equivalent to German basic medical qualification they will be required to sit for an aptitude test. when you will pass this test you will be granted an approbation/license.
If you wish to work as a specialist doctor in Germany you need to have your specialization qualifications/training recognized by the one of the 17 State Chambers of Physician of Germany.
- For EU/EEA/Switzerland specialists: Specialist doctors who completed their residency or specialty training in EU/EEA/Swiss countries, their residency training is recognized automatically in Germany. All they need is to just apply for membership with any one of the State Chambers of Physician.
- For Non EU specialists: Those who completed their specialization or residency training from Non EU area, they should also apply for membership to one of the State Chambers of Physician. Though they will be required to work for 12 months in their particular specialty in Germany to be recognized as specialists in the country.
Approbation/Aptitude test is to check knowledge of foreign medical graduates and compare them with German medical graduates as equivalent. Test mainly consists of Internal medicine and Surgery but also includes questions from A&E medicine, Pharmacology, Radiology, law on professional practice etc. Test mainly consist of clinical practice test with patient presentation and is usually for 60-90 minutes. Maximum 3 attempts are allowed.
Various institutes in Germany offer integration courses and preparation for this aptitude test. Some of the recognized institutes are bfw Unternehmen für Bildung, Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft für berufsbildende Maßnahmen mbH Berlin, Interkulturelle Bildung Hamburg, Kulturakademie Dresden, mibeg-Institut Medizin, VIA-Institut Nürnberg etc.
1. For application to medical universities in Germany
Check uni-Assist for complete list of documents and application form and process.
- Proof of having passed the DSH – Deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang – (language proficiency test required for entry to a German university)
- A secondary school leaving certificate issued in your home country
- Application form university admission (from uni-Assist or directly from university)
- Students from some countries must additionally prove that they have passed the university entrance exam in their home country and/or have studied successfully in their home country for one or two years
2. For getting licence to practice medicine
- ID card or passport
- Certified copy of basic medical qualification and any other certificate of competence
- Training courses certificate
- Professional experience certificate
- Health authority registration certificate from home country (Not for EU/EEA/Switzerland medical graduates).
- Medical fitness certificate (issued within the last month)
- Good standing certificate from health authority at home country (issued within the last month)
- Criminal record certificate
Send all these documents to any one of the State Health Authorities in Germany
There is no tuition fee for undergraduate of postgraduate education in a state university in Germany
Residents salary in Germany is 49000 euro/year
Specialist: 70000-100000 euro/year
Postgraduate Medical Education
Germany apart from its training in clinical medical sciences offers a lot more for foreign medical graduates. Foreign graduates can study further under health administrative and research domains. Daad offers a number of scholarships for medical graduates to study further. More options can be explored here. Most of these programs are taught in English and there is an excellent research scope as well in Germany. Graduates will gain valuable research and practical experience, and apply the learned concepts to their future career.
Some of research centers in Germany are: Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Competence Networks in Medicine, Paul Ehrlich Institute, Federal Health Monitoring System, Research Center for Environment and Health,The Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project, Future Medicine – therapies of tomorrow (Focus) etc.
Also there are many conferences, seminars, workshop and continuous professional development symposiums organized regularly by different organizations. some of these are German medicine forum, German Institute of Medical documentation and institution, Medica, Messen, Degim, German Congress German Society of manual medicine, Forum of Medical Education, Medicine Seminar Bad Boll etc.
For CME (continuous medical education) these are important links e.g. My medical education, CMELIST, CME online (eng.), ArztCME, CME, Deutsches Ärzteblatt, CME.springer, CME Pneumo Academy, CME test, etc.