License to work in Germany / Approbation

The process to get your license in Germany is called “Approbation”. The Approbation is an unlimited license to work as a doctor in Germany. Please note that, if you hold a license to practice medicine in any European country, USA, Australia, Israel, Canada, Japan or South Africa, the process of the Approbation is simpler.

The application for the Approbation requires you to submit several documents (CV, copy of passport, certificate of birth, certificate of study, etc.) to a Governmental Office. There are 16 States in Germany, the offices in different states operate in different ways.

For the application, you should hand in a certificate of German language. The level required is normally B2, although the higher your level, the better. As of 2017, there are 2 German states require level C1. The Governmental Office will ask you to pass an extra language examination applied by the syndicate of doctors – the objective is to test your ability to use medical vocabulary and to use the language in the context of a hospital or clinic.

Depending on the German state, you will be required to pass one or two exams. Those exams are “Patientenkommunikationstest”, a test of your ability to communicate with patients, and “Fachsprachprüfung”, which checks your medical vocabulary. The exam is oral. Normally the exam is applied by a representative of the governmental office, a German teacher and a medical consultant. The questions are simulations of medical cases. In these exams, your language proficiency is what counts.

After you have passed the language exam and submitted all the documents, the German authorities will analyse your application for the Approbation. There are two possible outcomes of this analysis: your study and experience might be considered equivalent to the one of a doctor who has studied in Europe, or you might be considered not yet equivalent.

If you are considered equivalent, you receive the Approbation right away. If not, you will be required to pass an equivalency test (In German, Kenntnisstandprüfung or Gleichwertigkeitsprüfung). This exam tests your knowledge in General Medicine, General Surgery, and an extra specialization field that is different in each state.

These exams take place before starting the work as assistant in Germany and they allow you to get a license to work as a doctor of human medicine.

Regarding your specialization, each one of the 63 specializations in Germany have a specific regulation regarding the amount of time and cases you must work as assistant in order to be allowed to take the examination for this specialty.

For example, imagine that you have a certificate of Specialization in Radiology in your country. German authorities will compare your experience with the required experience in Germany. Radiology specialty in Germany would require a doctor with Approbation 5 years working in this specialty as assistant and a certain number of MRI cases, CT cases, X-Ray cases, etc. These specific cases are registered in the so-called logbook. After achieving the numbers of years and cases required, the doctor can do the Specialization exam. In the case of a foreign doctor, some of the years and cases are recognized so the foreign doctor spends less time as assistant before being allowed to take the exam.

After you start to work in Germany, we will help you to get your experience (logbook) outside of Germany to be recognized by the medical syndicate. The exam for your specialty is an oral exam held in the Syndicate of Doctors. The duration of the exam is at least 30 minutes and maximum 3 hours.

If you are a general practitioner, there is no specialization exam. Nevertheless, keep in mind that general medicine or family medicine (in the USA) is considered a specialization in Germany.

Approbation and Specialization steps

Step one

Learn German until B2.

Step two

Pass in the German language tests (Patientenkommunikationstest, Fachsprachprüfung).

Step three

if necessary, pass the equivalency test (Kenntnisstandprüfung).

Step four

Work as assistant (residency period) – Duration depends on your previous experience.

Step five

After completing the log book, apply and pass in the specialization exam.

Step six

Work as specialist.

This might sound overwhelming. This is why we offer a Preparation & Coaching Program that guides you through the entire process and prepares you for the exams!

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