A newbie’s guide to living and working as a doctor in Germany in 2023
Greetings current and aspiring doctors! If you’re here, you’re probably curious about what life looks like when you’re working as a doctor in Germany. Some of these might be among the points that you’re likely thinking of and need information on:
● What is life like in Germany?
● What are the requirements to work as a doctor in Germany?
● What are Approbation and Berufserlaubnis?
● What are the average salaries for various types of Doctors in Germany?
● What are the scopes of various branches of medicine?
● Which state should I choose to live and work in?
● How do private clinics work in Germany?
● What are some of the major hospitals in Germany?
● What are some common problems Doctors face in Germany?
Whew, those are a lot of questions. Don’t fret, we have answers to all these and more in this article. Let’s proceed and take a sneak peek into life as a doctor in Germany!
What is Life Like in Germany?
As an aspiring doctor who wants to live and work in Germany, you should have an idea of what your new country will be like. Every day in Germany presents a new exciting challenge and adventure. Life in Germany manages to strike the balance between the hustle-bustle of the city and the calm countryside. You get the best of both worlds here. With excellent stats in terms of safety, education and healthcare, Germany is a wonderful country to start a family in. Also, did I mention that healthcare is state-sponsored in Germany? Yes, yes it is.
The Germans are also particular about following rules, whether they are written or unwritten. If you’re someone who values discipline and honest work in your life, you’ll find plenty of people with similar views in Germany. On the same lines as the previous point, public transport in Germany is generally on time and well maintained. This will ensure a stress-free inter-city traveling experience and will make your daily commute (if done by public transport) easier.
Employees in Germany typically enjoy fairer treatment than in other parts of the world. They’re backed by special organizations and are not completely at the mercy of their employers.
You’ll be pleased to know that Germany has one of the best standards of living in the world. German cities like Frankfurt, Munich, and Dusseldorf made it into the Top Ten Cities to Live in (2019). I’ll list down some quick stats about Germany when compared to the rest of the world.
➔ According to the Global Peace Index 2019 rankings, Germany is the 22nd most peaceful country to live in, among the 163 listed.
➔ Germany ranks 20th according to the Societal Safety and Security Domain
➔ The 2021 World Happiness Report lists Germany as the 7th-happiest country in the world.
➔ Germany is 8th on the Quality of Life Index, according to the UN HDI (Human Development Index)
Life for Doctors
As a doctor, you’ll find life and work in Germany to be much better than in most other countries. Germany accepts foreign doctors happily, as long as they meet the required criteria. A good point to note about Germany is that the healthcare system is well-financed and well-equipped. Along with the medical system, the insurance system is also pretty good.
As with any other country, being a doctor, you will have to work hard and put in plenty of effort. The difference here is that the effort you take here will be rewarded well and compensated fairly. German doctors, on average, make around 65,000 Euros per year as an Assistenzarzt (resident doctor) and 80,000 Euros as a Facharzt (specialist doctor).
Germany is currently in dire need of doctors and thus, there is a high demand for them. To mention a few fields, there are shortages of specialists in specific fields like Orthopaedics, Anaesthesiology and Dermatology. However, doctors are in demand in all specialties.
Some points to pay attention to are the language and social barriers. You have to be fluent and proficient in the German Language to be able to practice medicine in Germany. You might find it easier to practice in big cities as compared to smaller towns in the countryside, considering various socio-economic factors.
Requirements for working as a Dr. in Germany
Let’s get down to business. To work as a doctor in Germany, there are certain requirements you have to fulfill. We’ve noted down some of the highlights regarding these requirements.
As with any other country in the world, doctors require a medical license to practice medicine in Germany. The German medical license is called the Approbation. The Approbation grants the receiver complete access to practice medicine in the country. It is valid throughout the country and will last for a lifetime. The procedure for getting an Approbation can take some time, and the longer it takes, the longer it will take for you to be able to begin working and earning. To ensure that you can work and manage your finances during that period, you can opt for a temporary medical license, the so-called Berufserlaubnis.
A Berufserlaubnis is a professional permit issued on a temporary basis, which is valid for two years. With the help of this temporary license, you can work under a doctor in Germany holding a valid Approbation, till your own Approbation is processed. It can only be issued after a job offer in almost all states. The Berufserlaubnis, however, does not allow you to open a private practice and it is also valid only in the state in which it has been issued.
To get an Approbation or a Berufserlaubnis, there are some additional certifications and requirements. These are the major few.
Firstly, you must be certified in the German Language, at B2/C1 level, using CEF (Common European Framework). Familiarizing yourself with German is of utmost importance to ensure a fruitful career in Germany. Moreover, you have to pass the German professional language exam (Fachsprachprüfung), which will test your knowledge of German Medical Terminology and Clinical Communication Skills.
Next, candidates must apply for the license to practice medicine to the Ministry of Health/German Medical Council. Additionally, you must have a clear police record from your home country. To add to that, both EU and Non-EU native candidates must get their diplomas recognized by the German administration.
In the event that your diploma is not recognized as automatically equivalent according to German standards, you will have to give an equivalence exam (Gleichwertigkeitsprüfung), which will check your skills and make sure they’re equivalent to those of German doctors. You may breathe a sigh of relief to know that you have the option to repeat this exam if required.
Try doing a hospitation (internship or observationship) in the same hospital where you want to work after getting your Approbation. This will help you in getting acclimated to the inner workings of the hospital and will make your life and work after getting your medical license much easier.
Various Specializations and Their Average Salaries
It’s no secret that doctors who specialize in particular fields have a higher income than general physicians. Apart from the obvious financial bonus, specialized doctors also tend to have more exciting and fulfilling work, along with more in-depth knowledge about their field of choice. This is not to take anything away from general physicians, after all, it is them that we visit often when we’re sick.
An integral part of the Residency Medical Training in Germany is specializing in a particular area of medicine. In Germany, there are 30 varying medical fields to select from for your Specialist Medical Training. Specialist Medical Training in Germany requires about 5 to 6 years to complete and is conducted at clinics at universities, medical facilities and hospitals which have the authorization to conduct it. Each state in Germany has varying rules and regulations regarding Specialist Medical Training.
Making a definitive decision might be difficult, with about 30 different areas to choose from. To make things easier, we’ve made a list of the average salaries for doctors in various fields in Germany (in Euros):
● Assistenzarzt (resident doctor) (in hospitals): 65,000 per year
● Head Physician (in hospitals): 100,000 to 280,000 per year
● Assistant Medical Director (in hospitals): 100,000 to 130,000 per year
● Radiologist (private practice): 850,000 per year
● Orthopaedic Specialist (private practice): 311,000 per year
● Anaesthesiologist (private practice): 230,134 per year
● Dermatologist (private practice): 213,577 per year
● General Surgeon (private practice): 281,000 per year
● Gynecologist (private practice): 217,000 per year
● Paediatrician (private practice): 228,000 per year
These fields, alongside paying well, also have a bright future in Germany and are projected to grow rapidly in the coming years. So take your time to go through each option that works well for you, both interest-wise and financially.
Which State Should I Choose?
While any state in Germany is great to start your practice in, some states have been observed to be better options than others, and are promoting and inviting doctors to work there.
States like Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Thuringia, Rhineland-Pfalz, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Schleswig Holstein, and Bavaria have created special subsidies and incentives for doctors to start practices in their respective states.
How Do Private Clinics work?
The heart yearns for freedom, and doctors’ hearts are no different. If being constrained to a residency in a hospital seems too restrictive for you, you can always start your own private practice. Private practices, when compared to working in hospitals, have a calmer, more relaxed atmosphere. You get to work at your own pace and are able to give personal and in-depth attention to your patients.
Doctors who wish to start their own private practice, have to get permission from the Public Health Fund. This allows them to treat patients who are insured by the Public Health Fund. The Public Health Fund regulates the number of doctors working in a particular area.
Commonly, cities have a high concentration of doctors, and rural areas report a shortage of them. Owing to this, many German states have introduced subsidies and incentives to attract new doctors to start private practices. This makes opening a private practice in rural areas more appealing, due to the higher demand. The average yearly revenue of a doctor with his own private practice (Niedergelassener Arzt) is 166,000 Euros.
A couple of caveats to this option might be the obvious language and social barriers that you will have to overcome, along with the requirement of working harder to generate more income in rural areas.
Top German Hospitals
Does opening and running your own clinic sound hectic and like it’s too much work? We understand, perhaps working as a doctor at a top hospital is more your style. We don’t blame you, working at a hospital is indeed a very attractive option.
To give you an idea of which hospitals are among the best in the country, here’s a short list of the Top 10 Hospitals in Germany (2020) according to Newsweek. These hospitals provide excellent care to their patients and are satisfying places to work at for ace doctors.
- Charité – The Universitätsmedizin Berlin: Berlin
- The Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg: Heidelberg
- The Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf: Hamburg
- The Klinikum der Universität München: Munich
- The Medizinische Hochschule Hannover: Hanover
- The Klinikum rechts der Isar der Technischen Universität München: Munich
- The Universitätsklinikum Köln: Cologne
- The Universitätsklinikum Freiburg: Freiburg
- The Universitätsklinikum Regensburg: Regensburg
- The Universitätsklinikum Carl Gustav Carus Dresden: Dresden
Common Problems faced by Doctors in Germany
Well, while Germany is a fantastic option for doctors all around the world, nothing’s perfect. There are a few hurdles that you will have to overcome and some problems you might face while working as a medical professional in Germany, as with anywhere else in the world. Preparing for these “difficulties” will help you to transition over to living and working in Germany easily. Some of these issues are as follows.
On average, the only considerable issues you might face are related to social and lingual differences between your native country and Germany. This adjustment can be made smoother by learning more about the culture in Germany and learning the German language prior to coming to Germany. Learning German will not only help with adjusting to life in Germany, but it will also make the process for getting the medical license quicker.
We hope this article has answered some of your questions regarding working as a doctor in Germany. To sum it all up, here’s a quick summary of the important points from the article.
● Life in Germany is a combination of peace, adventure and discipline.
● Doctors in Germany are paid well and are fairly compensated for their work.
● You will require either an Approbation or a Berufserlaubnis to start working.
● There are many high paying specializations to choose from.
● German states have introduced various subsidies and incentives to attract young doctors to the states.
● Both private clinics and hospitals are wonderful options for doctors to work at.
● Transitioning over to Germany might be tough considering social and lingual differences, but it can be managed with the right efforts and patience.
WE CAN HELP YOU START YOUR MEDICAL CAREER IN GERMANY
Need help with becoming a medical doctor in Germany? First of all – subscribe to our YouTube channel Doctor In Germany, we will be uploading valuable content on a regular basis to help future and current doctors in Germany maximize their potential. Secondly, if you’d like us to go over your particular situation with you and find your best route for becoming a medical doctor in Germany, and of course answer any of your questions, you can book a one-on-one private counseling session. We would love to assist you!