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Medical work and continuing education in Germany

Country facts and demographic data

Area: 357,021 km², Population 82.4 million (as of 2007). 19.80 % are older than 65, 66.30 % are between 15 and 64 years old, 13.90 % are younger than 14.

The capital is Berlin; the official language is German.

Healthcare system

The healthcare system is mostly financed by insurance premiums, which are, with a few exceptions, paid in equal parts by employers and employees. About 90% of the population are insured by the statutory health insurance (GKV). Family members are exempt from contributions under certain conditions. About 9% of the population are privately insured.

Medical education and further training

Medical education is comprised of the study of medicine at a university for at least six years and three months including exam periods. The last year of study comprises a period of continuous on-the-job training in hospitals lasting 48 weeks, a first aid course, a three-month period of nursing practice, a clinical traineeship lasting four months and the following exams: a) first part of the physician’s exam after two years and b) second part of the physician’s exam after the practical year.


On the basis of the certificate for the physician’s exam and the fulfilment of the other requirements, the license or “Approbation” as a medical doctor is given by the appropriate institution of the federal state.


To practice medicine in Germany one needs to either be licensed (see: Berufsausübungsberechtigung) or obtain a provisional license (see: Berufserlaubnis nach § 10 der Bundesärzteordnung). All EU citizens with an EU diploma can apply for a licence according to the directive 2005/36/EG. This license is valid indefinitely in all of Germany. The provisional license is only valid in one federal state for a maximum of four years. You can find further information on this website.

Specialist training

Postgraduate training, even in general medicine, ends with the board certification as a medical specialist and takes between five and six years, depending on the specialisation. Training occurs under the leadership of doctors approved by the medical association at a university, a university clinic or in an approved medical care facility, which can also be the practice of an independent health practitioner. You can find further information at the website of the German Medical Association.


Every medical doctor is required by law to be a member of the federal medical association in the respective federal state. The federal medical associations are formed by the federal state as public corporations. A list of the federal medical associations can be found here.

Important addresses

Personal accounts

My “Krankenhaus Köpenick” Internship in Berlin
by Alina Wiedergut
Between my third and fourth year of medical school, I decided to apply for an internship at an emergency ward of the “Krankenhaus Köpenick” in Berlin, Germany. I chose Germany, because as an Austrian medical student I was very curious about working habits and teaching attitudes of our neighbour country.

Working in Germany
by Dr. Raffaela Hammerl
"The problem is well known: money is short and cost-cutting strategies are about to be implemented virtually everywhere. The situation of worsening working conditions has led to an emigration of German doctors. As a result there is currently a shortage of doctors in this country, which attracts people from other countries to work in Germany."


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