During the past years I have been receiving a steady flow of inquiries regarding the options for foreigners to study “MBBS” at German universities. I am setting “MBBS” in quotation marks because Germany, like most countries outside the Commonwealth, does not know an MBBS or bachelor-level medical degree. In the US, for example, you have to complete a bachelor degree first (usually in the natural sciences) before you are eligible to join medical school, which awards you an advanced degree.
Medicine Studies in Germany
Germany and, for that matter, the other countries of continental Europe have their own traditions of medical education. Most of them have never introduced the bachelor / master pattern for medical studies and are not planning to do so in the near future. Few countries – for understandable reasons – want to leave the training of future doctors in the hands of university committees or local examiners. Centralized state exams and country-wide approbation procedures for medical practitioners are, therefore, the rule.
There are no bachelor or master degrees for applied medicine in Germany; however, there is a medical doctorate. In contrast to some other countries (like the US), students in Germany can join medical school directly after finishing their senior high school (i.e. after 12, previously 13 years) – assuming their excellent marks make them eligible. Applicants from outside the EU usually have to attend a one-year “bridge course” (so-called “M-Kurs”), which is offered by selected universities to close the gap between the German senior high school certificate (“Abitur”) and the school-leaving certificates of other countries.
Medical training in Germany takes a minimum of six years, including two preclinical, three clinical and one practice year as an assistant doctor. The good news is: There is a quota for international medical students at German universities (roughly 8 percent of all seats) and fees are not higher than for other subjects. So, medical studies in Germany are quite affordable compared to most other countries. The bad news is: Medical education is fully taught in German language.
So, before anybody starts thinking about studying medicine in Germany, the first question should be whether she or he is willing to invest considerable time and energy into learning this not-too-easy language. Many have done it, and the rewards are considerable. The standard of medical education in Germany is high (just like that of medical technology), and German trained doctors are welcome wherever they go. Apart from that, German medical degrees have also been among the first to be recognized in India. For those wanting to stay on after their studies, ample opportunities are waiting. Germany has a rapidly aging population, and some parts of the country are already experiencing a shortage of young doctors.
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