Medical school and the assessment process to become a medical doctor

Medical school and the assessment process to become a medical doctorStudents that get admitted into a German medical university, the trainings include theoretical pre-clinical studies and practical application – separated into basic science (2 years known as “Vorklinik” – including courses in chemistry, physics, anatomy, biology, biochemistry, physiology, medical psychology, medical terminology, introduction into clinical medicine and sociology), clinical science (3 years known as “Klinik” – or practical training such as the first aid training, the elective course, as well as 3 months of work practice in nursing) and final clinical year – covering 2 semester period of a practical year “Praktisches Jahr” or internship in a medical faculty. In total, medical studies in Germany include a period of 5 years study activity.

Any graduate who wants to practice its work as a medical doctor or wants to carry out specialty training in Germany ought having full license to practice “Approbation” issued by the state health authorities “Oberste Landesgesundheitsbehörden” – valid for an unlimited period of time and across the country, or temporary license to practice “Berufserlaubnis” given for a certain limited time to act only within the federal state where the license is issued. Moreover, the requirements for getting involved into the medical profession in Germany are regulated through “Bundesärzteordnung” and the Licensing Regulations for Physicians “Approbationsordnung für Ärzte”.

General requirements to get the license to practice a medical profession in Germany are the followings:

  • The candidate must be a higher education student in medical studies (university or similar) – undergraduate from no less than 6 years and 3 months (at least 12 – 6 month semesters),
  • The candidate must possess at least 48 continual weeks of practical training,
  • The candidate must possess the certificate for successfully finishing the first aid training,
  • The candidate must possess at least 3 months of nursing practice,
  • The candidate must possess 4 months clinical elective

On the other hand, according to the Federal Government’s Recognition Act “Anerkennungsgesetz” every professional and vocational qualification gained abroad can undergo the assessment procedure of their qualification recognition in Germany – something that gives the eligibility to work within the medical profession in Germany same as locals.


As well, every state in Germany has its own “Landesärztekammer” – State Chamber of Physicians whose role is to manage issues related to medical specialty training in Germany.


There is a state medical examination to get the German “Approbation” or German Medical License, otherwise the authorization to work as a doctor in Germany. Issues related to testing and licensing of candidates for becoming medical doctors are regulated through the “Approbationsordnung für Ärzte” – Licensing Regulations for Physicians is the examination that each individual must undergo in order if willing to get the license for practicing medical profession in Germany. While authorities issuing this license are  German Medical Licensing Authorities known as “Approbationbehörde”. The Approbation is a license that is valid in all German Federal states or Landers, and following 3 years of work experience in Germany as a Licensed Medical Doctor the license holder can work also in other European Union countries as well.

The Approbation is not a one-time examination, but it has three different phases of the examination that the candidate must go through:

  • Phase 1: Intermediate Medical Exam or “Physikum”

This examination is held after the student undergoes 2 years of medical studies in higher education institution – known also as a Preclinical Stage of Studies. This examination is held in a written and oral-practical form, examining the candidate’s knowledge in the field of anatomy, biochemistry as well as psychology,

  • Phase 2: Written Case Exam

This examination takes place after 5 years of medical studies if the candidate has successfully passed the Intermediate Medical Exam,

  • Phase 3: Oral – Medical Licensing Exam

This examination takes place after 6 years of completion of medical studies – including 48 continuing weeks of practical training, if the candidate has successfully passed the Written Case Exam. This examination is held in a written and oral form.

Approbation for the EU graduates

Candidates coming from the European Union can easily become Approbation holders. The requirements they need to fulfill are: proofing a B2 level of German language proficiency and passing the Medical German Language Test.

To remain in Germany, the EU graduates who gain an Approbation they only need a residence permit for a longer stay, they do not need a work permit.

Approbation for third countries graduates

Candidates coming from non-EU countries, who have graduated in a medical higher education institution outside the EU are also eligible to get the license for acting within the Medical profession in Germany. However, there are some criteria they need to meet.

Another very important matter regarding this category of candidates for Approbation is that their education will be evaluated regarding its equivalence or “Gleichwertigkeit” with the German medical education. There a temporary or full license can be taken by the candidate, depending on the level of equivalence found after the evaluation process by the State Health Authorities or “Oberste Landesgesundheitsbehörde”.

Every state in Germany has its own Medical Licensing Agencies and their requirements regarding documents for getting the license as medical doctor might differ, but all of them must be submitted translated in German language. These required documents might include:

  • Health Certificate “Ärztliche Bescheinigung”,
  • Passport and Proof of clean criminal record” Führungszeugnis”,
  • Proof of B2 level of German language proficiency,
  • C1 Level of German Medical Knowledge Test “Kenntnisseprüfung order Gleichwertigkeitsprüfung”,
  • Copy of medical degree certificate,
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV) as well as the birth certificate.

To stay for a longer period, despite visa – this category of Approbation holder need also a Residence permit and the Work permit.

The assessment test

The assessment test is a test that is mandatory for the non-EU graduates whose foreign medical education is evaluated as not equivalent with German medical education.

This is a practical examination of the candidate, in a case by case basis. Hence, the candidate is tested through its patient presentation performance that lasts 1 hour to 1 hour and a half. To prepare for the assessment candidates usually are given a “Anpassungszeit “ temporary license and adjustment period of maximum 2 years.


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