Medical professions are extremely popular in Germany. Doctors traditionally have a high reputation for treating diseases and relieving pain. No wonder many dream of becoming a doctor. Anyone who decides to make the dream a reality must first complete a time-consuming and learning-intensive course.
The students have the choice of whether they would like to work as human or dental medicine or treat animals as veterinary surgeons. In addition to these classic medical courses, there have also been courses in complementary medicine for some time. They offer alternative practitioners, pharmacists and doctors an insight into alternative healing methods. In the broader sense, the pharmacy course also belongs to the medical fields of study.
The way to the doctor
The professional titles of doctor, dentist and veterinarian are legally protected in Germany. Only those who complete a course of study that is uniformly regulated nationwide will receive state recognition (approval). The licensing regulations specify the course content. The study of human, dental and veterinary medicine is divided into two sections.
The pre-clinical part
The first section is called preclinical and serves to convey the medical and scientific foundations on which the further studies are based. To this end, the students first attend seminars and lectures in the classic subjects of the natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry or physics. The students need the knowledge acquired here to pass the so – called pre – physics course.
Subsequently, subjects such as anatomy or physiology are on the curriculum. This is about the physical structure of people or animals and what processes take place in the body. Prospective dentists also attend courses on the basics of dental technology. After four or five semesters (in the study of dentistry), the first stage of study ends with a standard period of study with the first section of the medical examination, also called the physics.
The clinical part
In the clinical part of the course, students learn to diagnose diseases and treat them appropriately. In addition to theoretical lessons, internships and practical phases are also on the curriculum. The students look over the shoulders of practicing doctors and treat first patients under supervision. This second stage of study concludes with the second stage of the medical examination, the so-called hammer exam.
Those who pass the dreaded second section of the medical examination will receive the license to practice medicine. Veterinarians now have the opportunity to work directly in an animal clinic or to open their own practice. Dentists have to work as employees in a dental clinic or dental practice for at least two years before they can become self-employed. Human physicians are even required to complete specialist training for five to seven years before opening their own practice. For the title Dr. med. in order to obtain it, the physicians must also complete a doctoral thesis. Some students are already writing this in parallel to the clinical section. Otherwise, the graduates complete a doctoral degree.
The professional title of pharmacist is also legally protected in Germany. The course is as strictly regulated as that of the medical profession. In terms of its structure, it is similar to studying medicine : in the first four semesters, students learn the theoretical basics they need for further studies. The curriculum includes subjects such as biology and chemistry, and the students also learn about various medicinal plants and active ingredients and gain initial insights into practice.
The first state examination follows before the main semester begins after the fourth semester. In the main course, students learn how the medicines are composed, how individual ingredients work and which medicines best treat patients. This second stage of study ends with the second state examination. After that, the students complete a practical year, at the end of which the third state examination, the so-called pharmacist’s exam. With the third state examination in their pocket, the graduates receive the state license.
In contrast to the classic medical courses, the programs in the field of complementary medicine are not subject to any state regulation. With a sole degree in complementary medicine, it is therefore not possible to practice as a doctor in Germany.
The study programs are aimed rather at trained alternative practitioners, physiotherapists, pharmacists and doctors who want to deepen their knowledge in the field of alternative healing methods. For this group of people, the degree is a valuable additional qualification. Since many of the students are already working here, many of these degree programs take place part-time. However, there are also primary qualifying courses that impart knowledge from the field of complementary medicine and at the same time prepare for the alternative practitioner examination.
Requirements and admission criteria
If you are interested in studying medicine or pharmacy, you need good grades on your Abitur certificate: most courses have an NC. This is on average in the upper one range. Those who do not have such a good Abitur certificate and still want to study medicine in Germany have to prepare for several waiting semesters. The waiting time for prospective human, dental and veterinary doctors is currently around six years. An interest in the natural sciences is required. Prospective medical professionals should also be able to see blood and bring properties such as communication skills and empathy for everyday work.
Most doctors work in a clinic or private practice after graduation. Veterinarians can open their own practice immediately after completing their studies. Medical practitioners and dentists are only allowed to do this after they have completed their specialist training or after two years of preparation by the health insurance company. An additional study in the field of complementary medicine opens up new patient groups.
The career path is also relatively clear for graduates of a pharmacy degree: around 80 percent work later as salaried or self-employed pharmacists. Apart from the clinics, medical practices and pharmacies, work areas in scientific research or the pharmaceutical industry can be considered for graduates of medical courses. Veterinarians are sometimes employed by veterinary authorities, where they take on animal welfare tasks or monitor meat processing companies.