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Medical specialist training: Becoming a medical specialist in Germany

Gaining specialisation in a certain area of medicine is an integral part of medical specialist training in Germany. Training programmes can take five to six years and are conducted at university medical centres or other facilities which are authorised to provide specialist training. The regulations are different in each German state. To be eligible, you must have excellent German skills are and have a medical license, the “Approbation”.

by the Editors

Assistant Physicians © Lichtenscheid/DAAD
Assistant Physicians . © Lichtenscheid/DAAD

Procedure

After successfully completing your studies in Medicine, you may continue studying to gain specialisation in an elective subject. The training programme takes five to six years to complete. There are 30 different areas of medicine in which you can specialise. During the programme you are required to complete a catalogue of fixed tasks. The training programme concludes with the medical specialist examination.

Medical specialist training programmes are not degree programmes and are not offered at German universities. During such a programme, you work as a doctor in full-time employment, e.g. at a doctor's practice, a university clinic or medical centre or other “institution authorised to provide medical treatment”. You are paid as an assistant physician.

German language proficiency is a very important prerequisite, i.e. at least a B2 level as put forth in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. You have to provide proof of your language ability. The B2 level is equivalent to the business language certificate “Deutsch für den Beruf” (ZDfB).

The provisions for medical specialist training are not the same throughout Germany. The certification requirements are different in each state and are determined by 17 “State Medical Boards”. Your medical specialist training programme is subject to the rules of the state in which you live or work. You can find a list of all the State Medical Boards on the German Medical Association website.

You can find openings for assistant physicians (“Assistenzarzt”) here:

You can find the addresses of doctors, who are certified to train medical specialists, and other accredited medical training facilities on the websites of the State Medical Boards (see the list of State Medical Boards on the German Medical Association website).

You can occasionally obtain detailed information about the admission requirements and language exams from the respective university or university medical centre.

Licensure and recognition of prior academic qualification

If you wish to practice medicine in Germany, you will require a state medical license. This is called the “Certification to Provide Medical Treatment in Germany”, or “Approbation” for short. To obtain such a licence, you must register with the “Oberste Landesgesundheitsbehörde” (Supreme Health Authorities of the German Federal States). You can find a list of addresses of the responsible authorities on the German Medical Association website.

  1. If you are a citizen of the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and completed medical education in the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland:

Your medical education is normally recognised as equivalent to that provided in Germany, and you will receive your medical license (“Approbation”).

  1. If you are a citizen of a different country and did not complete your medical education in the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland:

The equivalency of your academic qualification will have to be assessed (knowledge assessment). If the medical board determines that your education is not equivalent to that provided in Germany, you will receive a temporary medical license, valid for a maximum of two years. During this period, you are required to take the equivalency assessment examination. If you pass the exam, you normally receive your German medical license.