Germany’s doctor shortage: Can studying medicine abroad help?

Gero Federkeil, Jelena Hohlweg and Kathrin Müller, U-Multirank

Feb 21, 2022 14:00 (CEST)

Implications of Covid-19 from the students’ perspective (c) Photo: Pixabay / Editing: CHE

An impending shortage of general practitioners has been a public issue for years in Germany. The current agreement of Germany’s ‘traffic light coalition’ – a government coalition of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and Alliance 90/The Greens, named after the parties' traditional colours, respectively red, yellow, and green, matching the colour sequence of a traffic light – also addresses the problem. However, the issue of the shortage of doctors must be viewed in a differentiated manner, as it is not equally virulent in all sectors of the healthcare system and in all regions of Germany. In recent years, new state medical faculties and universities have been established in Germany. Excluded from occasional press reports on the proportion of German students at medical faculties in Austria, the public hardly notices that a large number of German students are studying medicine at universities in eastern and southeastern Europe, especially in Hungary, Poland and Romania.

Despite one out of 10 German students choosing to study medicine abroad, there is little systematic information about the courses abroad, their quality and the professional careers of the graduates themselves.

The latest edition of the German University Magazine’s ‘DUZ Spotlight – Good Practice International’ would like to create more transparency on this. The article focuses on medical courses in southeastern and eastern Europe that are taught in English or German and specifically aimed at foreign students, and in some cases explicitly at German students. What factors motivate young people to study abroad? How are the study conditions and the quality of the courses in (southern) and eastern European countries?

Findings from the global university ranking U-Multirank and a survey at the respective universities directly provide information. Ultimately, the question should also be answered: can physicians trained abroad represent a solution to the impending shortage of general practitioners in Germany?

For the full story including the original DUZ Spotlight in German, visit our partners at the CHE Centre for Higher Education. 

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