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Germany Demanding Better German Language Skills From Migrating Physicians

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There˜s about 30.000 medics from abroad practicing in Germany. That seems to suit Germany˜s need for doctors pretty well as due to overageing and the emigration to western- and northern European countries it lacks a big amount of physicians. The biggest gap seems to be found in the so called new countries, the eastern part of Germany, that generally suffers from a strong emigration of workforce.

But the spokesperson of the Physician˜s Union, Ärztegewerkschaft, at Marburg recently critizised that while the doctors from abroad are generally very welcome, their language skills are below what one might expect and hope for. He argued in favor of a profession-specific German language training for migrating doctors. Not only would the patient-doctor-interaction suffer from a lack of proper German skills but also the information exchange among colleagues might prove a bit difficult at times.


The above number has risen by 100% over the last 10 years according to the German Federal Medical Chamber, Bundesärztekammer (see link below). More than 70% of them come from European countries (EU and Non-EU). Often it is professional commercially oriented organisations arranging the formalities between the doctors and the German medical institutions. It might not be surprising if certain skills are being interpolated slightly for the sake of closing a deal. Why should this profession differ from any other field? One might also argue that even if the German language skills are not perfect at the beginning of a doctor˜s stay in Germany, they might improve quickly as soon as one is immersing into a German speaking environment. After all, doctors are used to learn big amounts of foreign words in a short time, so why should they not simply catch up German as quickly?

It is to expect that in the near future the legal requirements to practice as a doctor in Germany might be tightened regarding German language skills. Every ongoing physician would do well considering this factor should he or she play with the thought of going abroad one day for practical experience or other reasons.

I am leaving for Germany in about two months and despite what others may think about German let me reassure you that it’s not hard to understand nor learn, provided you are guided by a gifted tutor and obviously have the neuronal connections of a doctor. For all  English speaking physicians out there that are currently struggling to reach B1 or B2, I  strongly recommend giving Smarter German and Michael Schmitz a try. He will get you there in no time. I am not advertising anything here, but I never thought I could laugh, have a good time and learn German fast as hell in the same time. Remember those memorization techniques we all used in a way or another to get through medschool?  Imagine extrapolating those techniques then adding a few more to your German learning experience and you’ll get a clue what I am talking about here.

Going back on topic, there˜s one downside to this understandable flow of highly specialized workforce: While German doctors tend to migrate into equally wealthy countries, those migrating to Germany mostly come from countries with a worse economical standing. That means that those countries are about to lack physicians themselves as they can not afford to offer a similar education nor equal payment to the often young doctors. As most of us, they are looking for a perspective in life, security and stability which is not yet given in their home countries. Often physicians earn a very small fraction of what they could earn in Germany. The working conditions, as hard as the job generally might be, are also likely to be much better in the western parts of Europe.

So how could one resent them for trying their luck abroad?

You just need to follow these two steps:

1. Check the Federal Physician˜s Chamber of Germany website, for the formalities required to work as a physician in Germany.

2. Learn German in Berlin with a very effective private teacher.

Good Luck and see you there!