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Foreign Doctors in Germany

Information for international doctors coming to Germany

Good news - doctors and other medical professionals are in demand in Germany! The need to make up for skill shortages in various specialist areas means that there are lots of opportunities for qualified doctors to find work in Germany, especially in rural areas and smaller towns.

However, the medical profession in Germany is strictly regulated and there are many conditions for international doctors to meet before they can work here. Here is a summary of the most important things you'll need to think about.

Choosing the right visa (non-EU citizens)

The EU Blue Card was introduced to help attract highly qualified professionals from non-EU countries to come and work in Germany. It's a prestigious work permit with various benefits compared to the normal work permit, including making the path to a permanent resident permit faster and easier. However there are various conditions attached, for example you'll need a concrete job offer with a minimum salary of €38,688 per year, and for your degree to be recognised in Germany.

If the Blue Card isn't an option for you, you may still be able to get a 'residence permit for the purpose of gainful employment' (formerly 'work permit'). Depending on the reason you were denied a Blue Card, this will require more effort. But it is a valid and widely used residence permit for Germany, and although the final integration process will be slower, it gives you the same rights as the Blue Card.

Getting a medical license

The 'Approbation' is the medical license issued by the German state that permits doctors to work in their profession. It is valid across Germany and lasts a lifetime.

There are various requirements attached to getting it. For a start, foreign doctors need to have a concrete job offer before applying. You'll also need medical German at C1 level (for normal, everyday German, B2 is sufficient). And any qualifications gained abroad must be deemed equivalent to comparable German qualifications. Especially for medical diplomas issued in non-European countries, evaluation of your academic qualification can take a long time. If you have a definite job offer, you can start by applying for a 'Berufserlaubnis' (temporary medical license). This allows you to work in Germany while your eligibility for the Approbation is being checked by the authorities.

With the 'Approbation' or 'Berufserlaubnis' you can start working - either just as a medical resident, or by working and studying your medical specialty at the same time. This can take several years depending on the speciality, but you can start earning money during this time. The process results in the German title of 'Facharzt', or medical specialist.

Language requirements

In Germany, the relationship between doctor and patient is based on trust and respect, and medical diagnoses will need to be communicated in a comprehensible and sensitive way. For that, very good German language skills are essential.

Because medical professions are regulated in Germany, you will need to prove that you have at least B2-level general German. In many federal states you will need C1-level medical German as well. (In Germany, every federal state has its own regulations for doctors.) To get your Approbation, you may need to pass an exam called the Fachsprachenprüfung. Some language schools offer courses to prepare for this special exam, which tests your oral and written German medical knowledge.

Salary expectations

The medical profession in Germany has high starting salaries and doctors are well paid throughout their careers. There are of course differences depending on your professional experience and the medical area you work in. Average salaries in Germany for doctors vary between 65,000 euro gross salary per year for an Assistenzarzt (assistant doctor) to 80,000 euro for a Facharzt (specialist). In hospitals, you are usually promoted according to the years of your professional experience, and your salary rises accordingly. Chief physicians at the top level of their career earn the most – with an average of around 278,000 euro per year. But don't forget, with high salaries come high expectations - doctors in Germany have a high workload and a lot of responsibility!

Contributed by German Jobs:
German Jobs specialises in helping medical professionals come and work in Germany. We'll help you understand and meet the requirements of the strictly regulated German medical sector and get the right job for your skills. We can also help with visa applications, learning medical German and much more. Find out more about our services: www.germanjobs.com

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