Living and Working as an Oncologist in Germany

Germany Flag

Facts and Statistics

  • Location: Germany is a federal republic of 16 states located in Western and Central Europe
  • Climate: Mild winters and cool summers in the west. Cold winters and hot summers with long dry periods in the east
  • Population: 81,800,000 (2011 statistics)
  • Territory: 357,104 km2
  • Ethnic make-up: German 91.5%, Turkish 2.4%, other 6.1%
  • Government: Federal parliamentary constitutional republic
  • Language: German is the official language. Recognized native minority languages in Germany are Danish, Low German, Serbian and Roman

Studying Medicine in Germany

Studying medicine in Germany usually takes six years. The admission for human medicine studies in Germany is restricted by the so-called “numerus clausus”. Some medical schools demand higher requirements from applicants regarding their final degrees. There are different modalities. Foreign students can find information about the necessary paper work at  the Institute for Foreign Education and at Medknowledge (Medicine in Germany)
Valuable information can also be found at  DAAD (German Academic Exchange Programme). DAAD offers information on all aspects of studying in Germany: university guide, scholarship database, living in Germany, fellowships, enrolment conditions for different countries, FAQ and more.
A basic requirement to study medicine at university is that you should have excellent examination results and a special interest in the sciences, especially biology, physics and chemistry. It is also mandatory that students speak and understand German as the majority of lectures and courses are held in German. English is necessary for understanding ongoing medical research. Knowledge of Latin is useful. Taken as a whole studying medicine is challenging because of the regulations by law (“Staatsexamen”) students have to participate in required lectures and courses up to 35 hours per week and have to spend much time in the library or at home after the courses preparing for exams. During vacations students have to perform a four-month clinical traineeship (“Famulatur”), which is mostly unpaid, but will make you familiar with patients clinical care.
When you start medical school you have two years focusing on preclinical aspects e.g. natural sciences, anatomy, scientific and social basics of medicine and practical courses in nursing. At the end of the two years there is an intermediate examination (“Physikum”). This is followed by at least three years focusing on the clinical aspects, giving exposure to specific medical fields such as surgery and internal medicine.
This is then followed by a practical year working in a hospital spending 16-week rotations working in internal medicine, surgery and another clinical field.
The practical year is followed by the final examination (“Staatsexamen”), on passing this you can then apply for your medical license (“Approbation”) which is required to work as a physician in Germany.

Where can I study medicine in Germany?

In Germany you can study Medicine at 36 universities. Please find web links to some of the medical schools below (not exhaustive list):---

A comprehensive list of all German medical schools can be found at Medknowledge, Medical Schools in Germany

What do I need to do to become a haemato-oncologist in Germany?

In Germany you can specialize as a medical haematologist and oncologist. Usually the training consists of three years of internal medicinal and three years of medical haematology and oncology. After six years of training you then undergo an examination by the responsible medical association (“Ärztekammer”).

Are there any Oncology Societies in Germany?

There are two main oncology societies in Germany: Deutsche Krebsgesellschaft (German Cancer Society) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hämatologie und Onkologie, DGHO (German Society from Haematology and Oncology) specifically for medical haematologists and oncologists. Furthermore, Germany has several societies for medical haematologists and oncologists from different disciplines dealing with cancer patients. Please find below some examples:

Is it possible to do a fellowship in Germany?

In general there are several fellowship opportunities in Germany. It is more or less mandatory to have a good knowledge of the German language when you consider a clinical fellowship. This might be different when you think of a pure research fellowship. For more information, please check the web site of  DAAD (German Academic Exchange Programme)

German Society and Culture

Germany is not only famous for its “Autobahn” which has no speed limits. Germany was the home of well known writers like Goethe, musicians like Bach and Beethoven, and painters like Dürer. German architects created the famous Bauhaus Style. Everybody has heard about the OSCAR-winning film “Das Leben der Anderen” (The Lives of Others) by Bernd Eichinger and Florian Henckel van Donnersmarck. In Germany you will find hundreds of theatres, museums, galleries and libraries. The government gives financial support to many cultural projects, ensuring that everyone can afford to participate in cultural activities and sports. The once immense difference between East and West Germany is gradually becoming smaller and smaller since the reunification of Germany in 1989.

Where can I find useful information for living in Germany?

Please visit Deutschland.de. This official but independent internet portal – in German, English, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic - offers useful information and facts about Germany.  For long stays and studies you can find useful information on the website of The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.
Enjoy meeting experienced and dedicated physicians and students, and enjoy studying in Germany!