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

In general, medical school students attend courses over a minimum period of six years. There are two major examinations throughout the studies (1. and 2. "Staatsexamen"), which have to be passed to get the license to practice medicine in Germany, the so called "Approbation als Arzt".To successfully study medicine in Germany students should be fluent in both spoken and written German, since examinations and lessons are in German. The current version of the licensing prerequisites ("Approbationsordnung") can be found at www.gesetze-im-internet.de/_appro_2002/BJNR240500002.html.

Prerequisite to enroll at a German medical school is a university entrance qualification which is equivalent to the German "Abitur". Foreign students find more detailed information on the equivalency of their qualification at the Institute of Foreign Education ( http://anabin.kmk.org/anabin.html).

Admission to German medical schools is restricted to students with excellent graduations and students, who have waited different periods of time to start studying. Most of the university places are centrally allocated with respect to the aforementioned factors by the central office fort he allocation of places in higher education ("Zentrale Vergabestelle für Studienplätze"). For more detailed information regarding the allocation process please access https://zv.hochschulstart.de/index.php?id=41.

There are 35 public medical schools at German universities across the whole country. Some of these medical schools have pre-selection opportunities to apply directly at a particular university. Detailed information on possible pre-selection processes and other higher requirements at the different medical schools can be found at https://zv.hochschulstart.de/index.php?id=1881. Moreover, there are currently three private med schools offering medical education in Germany, two of which are part of international collaborations between (i) the hospital of Oldenburg together with the university of Groningen, Netherlands, and (ii) the Asklepios med school Hamburg together with the Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary. The third one is the University of Witten-Herdecke, Germany.

Foreign students can find more detailed information on all aspects of studying in Germany, including university guides, scholarship databases, fellowship options, enrollment conditions, at the German Academic Exchange Programme (DAAD) at https://www.daad.de

Where can I study medicine in Germany?

In Germany you can study Medicine at 36 universities. A comprehensive list of all German medical schools can be available following this link https://zv.hochschulstart.de/index.php?id=1881

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

After finishing medical school and receipt oft he license to practice medicine in Germany, every physician can start his residency at any German hospital. Medical oncology and hematology is a combined subspecialisation in internal medicine and this specialisation usually takes a minimum of 6 years of clinical education split into three years of general internal medicine rotations and three years of special medical oncology and hematology training. After finishing the professional education a final oral exam hast o taken to become board certified as a consultant (so called "Facharztprüfung").

As declared by the German chamber of physicians ("Bundesärztekammer"), the requirements for specialty training in Germany are determined by the specialty training regulations of the individual state chambers of physicians. According to the legal provisions of these regulations, the following requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Specialty training may only commence after a full or temporary license to practice medicine ("Approbation" or "Berufserlaubnis") has been granted.
  • Specialty training must be carried out on a full-time basis under the supervision of an authorised specialist trainer (supervisor).
  • Specialty training includes participation in all medical activities pertaining to patient care in the field in which the specialty training is being conducted, including taking part in requisite on-call duties.
  • All of the above and below requirements should be agreed in a written contract.
  • Before commencement of specialty training, physicians are provided with a plan setting out the individual periods of time allotted for each training activity. Specialty training activities must be continuously documented and progress discussed during an annual meeting with the supervisor.
  • Upon completion of specialty training, the superv isor must provide the physician with a detailed specialty training certificate along with a written statement by the supervisor regarding the physician’s readiness for the specialty examination.
  • Specialty training takes place within the framework of appropriately remunerated professional employment as a physician. Appropriate remuneration is oriented on the arrangements of the collective agreement concluded for physicians, including, for example, remuneration via a scholarship or other third-party funding.
  • Physicians must be insured against the possibility of liability claims arising within the context of their professional practise (proof of liability insurance is required).

For more detailed information of regulations and content of specialty training please refer to the federal German chamber of physicians ( http://www.bundesaerztekammer.de/aerzte/aus-weiter-fortbildung/) or the responsible local state chambers of physicians, which can be found at http://bundesaerztekammer.de/ueber-uns/landesaerztekammern/adressen/. The local state chambers of physicians are also responsible for approval of already performed foreign professional education.

Are there any Oncology Societies in Germany?

There are two major societies for Medical Oncologists in Germany. The Germany Society of Haematology and Oncolgoy ("Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hämatologie und Onkologie e.V."; DGHO) and the Medical Oncology Association ("Arbeitsgemeinschaft Internistische Onkologie"; AIO) as part of the German Cancer Society ("Deutsche Krebsgesellschaft"; DKG).

For further information please access the websites of the different societies:

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!