Studying Medicine in Germany
An article by Florian Schumann. Cooperation from: Gabriele Meister
That is what it's about
"A Medical degree is the ticket to one of the finest professions: You can help people in existential need, across all age groups and social backgrounds," says Matthias Frosch, professor at the University of Würzburg and president of the German Medical Faculty Association.
Medical students look at the causes of diseases and the possible treatment methods. The classic contents of the course include, for example, how cells are structured or how to ask about a patient's medical history. The learning never stops. "You must always react to findings and results from studies, for example if it is a new or changed virus for which new treatment options must be sought, as was the case with Covid-19," says Frosch. New insights are also gained because today it is possible to evaluate huge data sets using digital methods, for example in the genome sequence analysis of a human being.
Increasingly, so-called interprofessional learning projects are emerging across disciplinary boundaries. Then, for example, medical students, nursing trainees and prospective physiotherapists work together on a hospital ward.
This is how the course runs
A Medical degree takes twelve semesters plus three additional months for the state examination. The first part of the course covers scientific basics such as physiology, anatomy and biochemistry, plus laboratory practicals and a dissection course in which students dissect cadavers to learn how the body is constructed.
The first medical examination after four semesters is followed by the next section with 22 disciplines (from general medicine to surgery) and 12 interdisciplinary topics such as rehabilitation and epidemiology. During the semester break students do clinical internships for a total of four months. Most universities also try to teach practical skills early on. In skills labs, for example, students learn how to draw blood or suture wounds.
After five years of study, students take the second medical examination and then the practical year, during which they work in a hospital or in a practice and take an oral and a practical examination.
After this, most complete a specialist training course to become an ophthalmologist, gynaecologist or anaesthetist, for example; this takes a further five to six years.
Typical questions raised within the subject
- How are organs, muscles and bones built?
- How do you examine patients?
- How do medicines work?
- How does the microbiome, i.e. all the microbes in the human body, influence our health?
- How do you recognise a heart attack?
- How do you treat a child who has scarlet fever?
- What pathogens are there, and what do they do in the human body?
- What diseases can arise when metabolism and hormone balance are disturbed?
- How do you read a scientific study, and what conclusions do you draw from it for practical purposes?
The subject suits you,...
... you are interested in natural sciences and the human body. It is important that you can communicate in a sensitive manner when dealing with patients. A willingness to perform is also required; doctors have to memorise a great deal and take many exams. "For medicine, you usually need a top school leaving certificate (Abitur) or a good score on a medical test. If you have this, you will also succeed in studying medicine," says Matthias Frosch. If you were good at science in school, you have an advantage. Some universities offer bridge courses before the start of your studies, in which they teach the basics of chemistry and biology.
Is there a numerus clausus?
Entrance restrictions (numerus clausus) were grades in the one range, often even close to 1.0. In the meantime, admittance has been reformed.